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Supporting Local Journalism

Local newsrooms face an accelerating crisis

Local newsrooms are the heart of their communities. However, according to a Microsoft article, changes in digital advertising and in the way people receive their news has lead to:

  • A decrease in newsroom employment and fewer local stories
  • An increase in digital illiteracy making some susceptible to manipulated content. 
  • Cyber attacks

A Community Solution

Click To Watch:

We along with the Greater Green Bay Community Foundation are part of a new collaborative effort to help our local newsrooms address this growing crisis.

This initiative launched in May 2021 provides technology support, capacity building and additional funding to preserve and protect journalism and local newsrooms.

Microsoft selected Northeast Wisconsin as its fifth local news pilot in the United States as part of its Journalism initiative, donating a total of $300,000 to the Northeast Wisconsin Journalism Initiative Fund, established within the Greater Green Bay Community Foundation, in partnership with the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region.

The region was selected in part because of a strong history of impact and collaboration by the two community foundations, local media, and TitletownTech’s partnership with the Green Bay Packers and Microsoft. As a three-year pilot effort, the community foundations are encouraging other organizations, businesses and individuals to also make supporting local journalism an important focus.


Meet the NEW News Lab Partners:

We are currently partnered with six news organizations: Fox Valley 365, The Post-Crescent, Green Bay Press Gazette, The Press Times, Wisconsin Public Radio and Wisconsin Watch, that will advance in-depth local reporting on topics such as racism as a public health crisis, lack of affordable housing, funding of local schools, or coverage of local judicial systems. The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay’s Journalism Department is an educational partner.  Read the full news release.

Community Journalism Projects

NEW News Lab members will release stories supported by the partnership, which will be available for free publication by other news organizations across the state and nation.

Here are the NEW News Lab stories in 2023:

As northeast Wisconsin diversifies, students of color use tools like code-switching to navigate their own identity and community
October 3, Green Bay Press-Gazette
Students may code-switch to gain entry to social situations with peers — for example, students say they code-switch because they were told they’re both “too Black” or “too white.”

Outagamie County devises regional strategy to address looming shortage of affordable housing
September 2, Post Crescent
The Fox Cities area needs between 1,000 and 2,000 new housing units per year to keep up with growing demand, but a labor shortage in critical positions needed for constructing housing is just one of the many challenges the area is facing when it comes to actually developing an adequate number of units. 

Oshkosh Defense sent a big contract to the non-union South. Will it keep future jobs in Wisconsin?
August 6, Wisconsin Watch
Despite tens of millions in state and local government incentives, the Wisconsin company is steering billions of dollars of work away from its namesake city.

Can the Green Bay Packers inspire new model for local journalism?
July 26, Green Bay Press-Gazette
The Green Bay Packers business model might help save a newspaper, which would be appropriate since a newspaper helped save the Packers.

Bomb threats, canceled events, empty schools: How a bullying probe paralyzed a Wisconsin town’s democracy
July 16, Wisconsin Watch
Kiel’s paralysis in late May and early June followed a descent into incivility that shares elements of school board fights across the country — fueled by a cocktail of political tribalism, COVID-19 anxiety, false claims of election fraud and racial tensions following the Minneapolis police murder of George Floyd. 

Black women are five times as likely to die in childbirth. Here’s what that looks like in Green Bay.
July 12, Wisconsin 365
Factors that lead to these life-threatening disparities include the quality of health care, chronic conditions and structural racism and bias, according to the CDC. In Brown County, Black women receive the lowest rates of first-trimester health care and are most likely to have premature births

Minority-owned businesses can struggle to start and grow in northeast Wisconsin
June 21, Green Bay Press-Gazette
Minority business ownership in Wisconsin lags national rates. Black, Hispanic, Native American and Asian people own 18.7% of small businesses nationally, but 9.6% here, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 2021 Wisconsin Small Business Profile.

‘I will never forget the sacrifices of my ancestors’: Black organizations put Juneteenth front and center across Wisconsin
June 16, Post-Crescent
Community Juneteenth celebrations have been held sporadically in larger communities in northeast Wisconsin since the 1990s, but lagging community leadership in the early 2000s diminished attendance numbers. In 2009, former Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle made Juneteenth a legal holiday in the state.

Northeast Wisconsin is becoming more diverse, but the process of becoming inclusive will be “a long rollercoaster ride”
June 7, Post Crescent
While progress has been made, organizational leaders caution there is no end in sight for DEI efforts. Rather, it’s an ongoing process, an evolution. A decade ago, the conversation centered on diversity. Today, equity and inclusion are equal parts of the path forward.

Deals Vince Biskupic made as a prosecutor and judge raise questions of fairness in Wisconsin’s justice system
June 2, Wisconsin Watch
Biskupic’s deals had a twist: He threatened to charge people but agreed to withhold charges in exchange for “donations.”

Seven eye-opening things we learned by diving into northeast Wisconsin census results, then talking to people
May 4, Green Bay Press-Gazette
For some, learning that minority populations significantly outgrew the white population over the past decade may have come as a surprise. For others, the census simply put numbers to something they’d already observed at work, in schools or at the store.

Northeast Wisconsin organizations devoted to racial and ethnic diversity
April 26, Post Crescent
Our communities are richer because they’ve become more diverse, though we continue to work through growing pains related to acceptance and opportunity. In “Home is Here: Stories behind the census,” we explore the impact, the triumphs and the challenges of our changing population.

Churches, mosques and temples support, anchor diverse communities in Green Bay, Appleton and Oshkosh
April 12, Post Crescent
With cultures often intertwined with religion, places of worship have become crucial centers to build community for people in northeast Wisconsin.

Homelessness in Brown County is a complex problem. Here are some potential solutions.
April 11, Green Bay Press-Gazette
Brown County is looking to address homelessness by creating a housing navigator job, using grant money in the county’s 2022 budget.

Brown County advocates say mental health needs to be addressed among homeless
April 7, The Press Times
As Brown County’s struggles with homelessness didn’t happen overnight, solutions to it haven’t come quickly, either. But before a solution can happen, actions need to be taken. One of those actions is trying to figure out the scope of the issue.

The census pushed people into strict racial categories for 200 years.
March 30, Green Bay Press-Gazette
A new approach reveals Wisconsin’s racial complexity and diversity.

Spanish speakers came to Wisconsin before it was a state. Here’s how they’ve shaped the economy, labor laws, and found the American dream.
March 30, Green Bay Press-Gazette
The census paints a picture of a fast-growing Hispanic population that includes newcomers as well as families that have been here for generations.

How Latinos Shaped Wisconsin
March 24, Post Crescent
Latino people have a long history in Wisconsin. Here’s how they’ve shaped the economy and found the American dream.

‘If you can’t adjust, you can’t advance.’ How Green Bay, Fox Valley DEI specialists make the case for inclusion in workplaces
March 15, Post Crescent
More and more businesses, organizations and government agencies have hired diversity, equity and inclusion managers or directors. It’s a new enough trend that it’s fair to wonder, what do those professionals actually do day to day, and why are companies creating these roles?

Students in northeast Wisconsin schools speak more languages than you may guess
March 15 Post Crescent
School districts across Wisconsin are filled with languages other than English. In Appleton, 41 languages are spoken among students and families, according to data from the state Department of Public Instruction for the 2020-21 school year. About 25 languages are spoken by students in Green Bay, and Oshkosh recently reported more than 50.

For the homeless, Green Bay’s shelters meet needs of all kinds
March 11, Green Bay Press-Gazette
Freedom House resident Jolene, 32, said she knew it meant she and her kids — one of whom has a disability requiring her to be in a wheelchair — would be homeless.

“Hmong people are truly American, if not more American than most Americans”
March 8, 2022 Post Crescent
The proportion of Hmong among the Asian American population exceeds 70% in Sheboygan, Marathon and Calumet counties, and 50% in La Crosse, Winnebago and Outagamie counties.

Help stem the crisis in local news: We need your support for 3 new journalists coming to our Wisconsin newsrooms.
March 7, Green Bay Press-Gazette
A segment on “60 Minutes” last weekend, “The demise of local news,” hit close to home.

‘You cannot ignore it anymore.’ Pandemic spotlights homelessness in Brown County, fueling push for solutions
February 15, 2022 Wisconsin Watch
In 2020, mostly due to the pandemic, Green Bay saw more people who lack housing gathering in St. John’s Park in the heart of downtown, generating more than 100 police calls from April to October, including disturbances, public drug use and sexual assaults.

Disregarded – The path to change, starts with a plan, cooperation
February 14, 2022 The Press Times
Collete said she used to be one of those people who judged a book by its cover.

Disregarded – A look toward the future
February 4, 2022 The Press Times
“It has to  be a community effort to make any progress in addressing homelessness.”

Home is here: Northeastern Wisconsin’s surge in diversity forged by opportunity, grit and inclusion
Feb. 2, 2022  Green Bay Press-Gazette/The Post-Crescent
The region’s Hispanic, Black, Asian and Indigenous communities boomed over the past decade, but our growing diversity is not without challenges for those seeking a sense of belonging and acceptance in a region that can be slow to embrace change.

Meet some of Brown County’s homeless working to get their lives back on track
January 29, Green Bay Press-Gazette
In the past seven years, seven people experiencing unsheltered homelessness have died on Brown County streets. It’s a number Paul VanHandel, Homeless Outreach Team member, former Green Bay police officer and longtime advocate for the homeless, said is hard to accept.

Diverse cities, whiter suburbs, dying farms: 5 ways northeast Wisconsin has changed
Jan. 25, 2022, “Our children will be immersed in the diversity, where they will fit in, especially because they are mixed race. They’ll see other kids with their complexion and darker features.”

Disregarded – Street outreach: Bridging the gap
January 25, 2022 The Press Times
“All you can do is go back and have that conversation again, and keep trying.”

Homelessness in Brown County is an ongoing struggle dealt with in shadows 
January 21, Green Bay Press-Gazette
For many, homelessness may seem like a foreign concept – something that could never happen to them. It can be easy to pretend not to see the guy sleeping in the park, or to ignore the woman standing at an intersection holding a handwritten plea for help.

Disregarded – Life on the streets
January 19, 2022 The Press Times
In the past seven years, seven people experiencing unsheltered homelessness have died on Brown County streets.

“Home is Here: Stories behind the census.”
Jan. 17, 2022, The biggest headline to come out of the census data released last summer is the growing number of Black, Asian, Native American and Hispanic residents in the region. Yet the antiseptic, often imprecise labels used by the census bureau fail to convey full truths.

Disregarded – Brown County’s state of homelessness
January 12, 2022 The Press Times
“The problem has gotten to a point where you cannot ignore it anymore.”

An invisible population: Homeless in Brown County
January 6, 2022
Wikipedia defines homeless as the condition of lacking stable, safe and adequate housing. This is nothing new.

‘Evolve or die’: Wisconsin’s labor shortage could last years. Here’s how employers, workers can succeed December 23, 2021 Appleton Read More

Wisconsin state parks battered as Lake Michigan shrinks beaches, smashes boardwalks

Imperiled Shores November 4, 2021, Wisconsin’s Great Lakes communities expect to spend $245 million in five years to protect shorelines as a climate ‘tug of war’ drives extreme shifts in water levels. Read More

As Lake Michigan shoreline vanishes, Wisconsinites try to fight waves with walls November 4, 2021, Wisconsin sees a surge in barriers to slow lakefront erosion. But such structures are temporary and may harm downstream beaches. Read More

‘The water always wins’: Calls to protect shorelines as volatile Lake Michigan inflicts heavy toll October 30, 2021, Wisconsin’s Great Lakes communities expect to spend $245 million in five years to protect shorelines as a climate ‘tug of war’ drives extreme shifts in water levels. Read More

Just as important: Syble Hopp, a place of belonging October 22, 2021, For five decades, Syble Hopp has sought to be a place where students with intellectual and other developmental disabilities feel like they belong. “I cannot say enough about Syble Hopp,” Julie Taylor, mom of 19-year-old Preston, who has attended for the past 11 years, said. Read More

Just as important: Funding conundrum October 14, 2021, Understanding the special education system in the State of Wisconsin can be challenging.Add funding to the equation and comprehension is likely headed into a tailspin. Federal and state mandates require all public school districts provide special education services to students who require them. Read More

Just as important: Inside the classroom October 7, 2021,
Parents advocate and directors facilitate.
But, it’s teachers who interpret complex 504 accommodation plans and Individualized Education Plans – to turn them into meaningful lessons for students.
Area administrators agree the success of any special education department is heavily dependent on the teachers inside the classrooms. Read More

Wisconsin’s special ed system: High stress, sparse state funding October 2, 2021, Wisconsin Watch
For parents and teachers, raising and educating a special-needs child can be all-consuming. Parents struggle to care and advocate for their children, who may have significant health, educational and behavior challenges. And teachers face tough working conditions that prompt many of them to switch districts or leave special education, creating a shortage of qualified educators. Read More

Just as important: The weight of the job September 30, 2021,
The job of a special education director is a balancing act between state and federal requirements and a desire to help students and families. Mandates, continuous paperwork, staff shortages, varied student needs, frustrated parents, limited resources, funding struggles – the list of responsibilities on the shoulders of the directors can sometimes seem infinite. Read More

Just as important: A secondary education odyssey September 23, 2021,
The transition from elementary school to middle school, and from middle school to high school are milestones for students – new buildings, new kids, new classes, new routines. For special education students and their families these transitions can require copious planning and are oftentimes filled with uncertainty. Read More

Just as important: Early education odyssey September 16, 2021,
Parents of special education students are driven by the instinctive need to help their child. Though the end goal of all involved is to help students succeed, the path to get there can differ drastically, and sometimes spark frustration.  Read More

A Fox Valley builder provides affordable housing. It’s not easy. September 14, 2021,
Expert says, ‘middle income, workforce housing price point for ownership has just disappeared’ in Wisconsin. Here’s how one builder is trying to meet the need. Read More

Just as important: Understanding the special education system September 13, 2021, Parents with students in special education programs need to familiarize themselves with a series of acronyms which reference federal and state mandates to help them through what can often be an arduous process. Read More

‘It’s criminal’: Milwaukeeans call for speedier lead pipeline removal to cut childhood poisoning September 9, 2021, Replacing all Milwaukee lead service lines would take 70 years at current pace. Meanwhile, Wisconsin home lead investigations rarely test water amid focus on paint. Read More

People with disabilities sue to overturn Wisconsin law denying them unemployment benefits September 7, 2021,
Eight plaintiffs receiving Social Security Disability Insurance payments say the state is illegally discriminating against them by banning them from jobless aid. Read More

Will the end of pandemic-related unemployment benefits ease Wisconsin’s worker shortage? September 3, 2021,
Faced with a workforce shortage in some low-wage industries, 22 states ended the $300 federal unemployment expansion early. These state governments believed the expanded benefit was discouraging people from seeking a job. Read More

‘Skipping the middleman’: Defendants faced shifting demands in Outagamie County judge’s one-man drug court
August 28, 2021,
The judge says it met a need, but the self-styled program lacked structure and meant longer punishments for some. Read More

‘It’s all or nothing’: A small pay bump can cut benefits for Wisconsin workers August 16, 2021,
A 25-cent raise threatens loss of needed benefits for some low-income families, making it hard to get ahead. For many people, a small increase in pay can mean a disproportionately greater decrease in benefits.  Read More

District administrators concerned with biennial budget August 4, 2021, Press Times
District administrators are attempting to read between the lines as they start to determine what the budget means for their individual school districts going forward. Initial reactions among top area school leaders are pretty similar – disappointment. Read More

Old standards don’t work’: 4 things Wisconsin communities can do to increase affordable housing development July 26, 2021 Post-Crescent
To address the need for affordable housing, the Green Bay study called for about half of the needed new apartment construction to rent for less than $1,000 a month, and for about 20% of new homes to be smaller structures that sell for $158,000 or less.  Read More

Help wanted: Northeast Wisconsin businesses hard-pressed for workers as COVID-19 pandemic worsens labor shortage 7/21/21, Post Crescent
Patrick Neph has had to limit reservations at his Green Bay, Wisconsin steakhouse because he doesn’t have enough staff to serve a full house. Neph owns Republic Chophouse and the soon-to-open Mangiare, an Italian restaurant just down the street. Between the two eateries, he needs to hire 10 to 15 more employees.  Read More

Racial equity committee starting to form plan 7/26/21, The Press Times
Brown County’s Racial Equity Committee spent its June meeting discussing how the group can best utilize the knowledge and skills already at the table. Three meetings in, the ad hoc committee has spent time networking with potential guest speakers and researching other local governments and nonprofits which have embarked on a similar fight against racial inequity.  Read More

Shortage of affordable housing has deep roots, no easy fixes 7/18/21, The Press Times
Stacey Burkhart began her search for a two- or three-bedroom apartment on the internet, looking for something that would have enough space for her 6-year-old twins, a third child, age 8, and her dog. It was hard to find anything for under $900 per month, and qualifying to rent was difficult.  Read More

Northeast Wisconsin businesses struggle to attract, retain employees amid labor shortage worsened by COVID-19 pandemic 7/15/21, Post-Crescent
Across Wisconsin, employers say finding workers is their number one headache. The struggle existed before the COVID-19 pandemic, but the problem has intensified as the U.S. economy roars back to life. There are more than 110,000 open positions on the Job Center of Wisconsin website, while the state unemployment rate currently sits at 3.9%, almost at the level seen immediately before the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the state Department of Workforce Development.  Read More

Cow manure predicted to cause most sickness from contaminated wells in Kewaunee County 6/23/21, Wisconsin Watch
A new study predicts the incidence of gastrointestinal illness in private drinking wells, identifying manure as the main cause of contamination. The findings raise questions about the effectiveness of existing regulations aimed at protecting residents from tainted drinking water.  Read More

Why Microsoft, community foundations are helping boost local news in northeast Wisconsin 6/23/2021 Post-Crescent
Why is tech giant Microsoft teaming up with two community foundations to support journalism that serves northeast Wisconsin? You can hear directly from Microsoft and leaders of the Greater Green Bay Community Foundation and the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region. In a new video show, Microsoft’s Eric Prock is joined by Amber Paluch and Curt Detjen from the foundations to discuss their role in the NEW (Northeast Wisconsin) News Lab. Read more

Rising referendums: Competing sides search for solutions 6/17/2021 Press Times
The consensus across school districts and party lines is clear – Wisconsin’s school funding system has flaws, and it has had them for many years. What those flaws are and how they can, or should, be fixed long-term is where the consensus stops and the debate starts. Read more

Finding an affordable home means so much to families. Here’s why it’s so hard to do in northeast Wisconsin 6/16/2021 Green Bay Press-Gazette
Molly Rodela can’t wait to say goodbye to the two-bedroom Manitowoc apartment she, her husband, Hector, and their daughters have shared for more than five years. The couple searched for years for a bigger place to raise their kids, ages 9 and 5, but they were not approved for a mortgage loan when they first started house-hunting in 2016. Read more

Converting a former newspaper building to affordable apartments took a developer’s passion and government assistance to come together 6/14/2021 Appleton Post-Crescent
Since 1932, the Art Deco building at 306 W. Washington St. had been the home of Appleton’s The Post-Crescent, where generations of reporters, photographers and editors worked to tell the stories of the Fox Cities. But now, it’ll be an affordable home for individuals and families in the heart of downtown Appleton. The former newsroom is a kitchen where a family will sit down to dinner. Old conference rooms have been turned into bedrooms and bathrooms. The press room, where a mammoth printing press once cranked out thousands of newspapers a day, is now an underground parking garage. Read more

Rising referendums: Spending big in the suburbs 6/10/2021 Press Times
To keep his sights set on the future of public education, Howard-Suamico Superintendent Damian LaCroix keeps close a powerful reminder of the past. Nestled on his office bookshelves are the original minutes from a community meeting held in the Town of Pittsfield on Nov. 15, 1856. “The only thing on the agenda was this group recognizing the need if the community was going to prosper and thrive, they needed to invest in their schools,” LaCroix said. On that day, those 17 community members in attendance agreed on a $200 tax to build a new school house and a $50 tax to pay for a teacher. Read more

Disrupted lives, frustration and stress: Northeastern Wisconsin residents’ struggle to find an affordable, suitable home 6/8/2021 Green Bay Press-Gazette
The search for affordable housing can stall lives, keep families apart, sting with rejection, and add stress to the lives of even the most determined housing hunters. In interviews, northeastern Wisconsin residents told reporters their months searching for an affordable place consumed time, energy and their resources with no guarantee of success. Read more

Northeastern Wisconsin’s shortage of affordable housing has become critical 6/7/2021
Green Bay Press-Gazette
Stacey Burkhart is a community leader. She’s the head of SAGE Green Bay, an organization that fosters the arts in the area, and owner of Eight Trees Co., where she makes stuffed animals with clothing that has special value to the customer. Besides planning events and connecting artists at SAGE Green Bay, Burkhart is an advocate for artists getting fairly compensated and community building. Despite her leadership, Burkhart struggled to find an affordable place to live in the very community she served as she transitioned to life as a single mother of three children. Read more

Rising referendums: Largest districts spend big 6/3/2021 Press Times
The results of the referendum that would bring $1 billion over 30 years to the Racine Unified School District – one that would allow the district to revamp buildings that date back to the Civil War – came down to just five votes. Ballot questions continue to be used in Wisconsin because school officials find the state’s revenue cap, implemented nearly 30 years ago, doesn’t keep up with what it costs them today to provide education. Read more

Lack of affordable housing is crimping economy, hurting families – 6/02/21,Green Bay Press Gazette
Amber Edwards spent most of the last three years trying to find a place she could afford to live. In 2018, Edwards’ landlord told her the Green Bay duplex where she lived with her 2-year-old daughter and her daughter’s father had been sold and that the new owners planned to live there.  Read More

Brown County Racial Equity Committee begins its two-year mission – 6/02/21, Fox Valley 365
The Brown County Central Library auditorium was filled with big ideas on Monday, May 24. Brown County’s Racial Equity Ad Hoc Committee convened for a second time this Monday to explore ways to address racial inequality in Northeast Wisconsin. In February, Brown County passed a resolution to declare racism a public health crisis. Read More

Rising Referendums – School Funding 101 – 5/27/21, The Press Times
Wisconsin’s school funding structure is like a layer cake, with layers changing in size, shape and flavor from top to bottom. Under the current structure with revenue limits and funds based on enrollment, school districts find themselves with increasing regularity placing ballot questions before voters as the only way to fund everything from new construction to operational costs, such as employee compensation.  Read More

Brown County is just the latest local government nationwide to address the health impacts of racism – 5/26/21, Fox Valley 365
By focusing on health outcomes, local officials hope to take more tangible action on the undeniable and persistent impacts of racism. While progress on eliminating racism can be elusive, the intention is to bring institutions and resources together to address this issue for what it is-a perpetual crisis. Read More

Go Big or Go Home: How Milwaukee set the stage for tackling racism as a public health crisis – 5/26/21, Fox Valley 365
Since 2019, more than 170 local governments including counties, cities, and community boards have declared racism to be a public health crisis. These declarations have led to responses such as increased funding, research, and coordination to improve health outcomes for communities of color. Read More

Click to play our podcast covering the New News lab’s Affordable Housing crisis:

Madison365 earns six Milwaukee Press Club awards, including 2 gold and 4 silver

Congratulations to Fox Valley 365 and Madison 365 for their awards – especially Best Hard News Feature for Kynala Phillips’ coverage of maternal health disparities in Northeast Wisconsin. She wrote her story while a graduate student at the Newmark School of Journalism at the City University of New York, on an internship funded by the NEW News Lab. She is now a service journalism reporter at the Kansas City Star. MORE HERE.