Advanced Reporting’s Winnebago Court Project

By: Andrea Larson (@andrea_larson_)

Who knew the not-so-quiet city, with a population of roughly 66,083, had scandalous, shocking stories hidden within? Yes, I am talking about our beloved Oshkosh. These stories paved the way for journalism students in the Advanced Reporting class to use what they learned to tell the stories to the world, or at least inform the rest of the city.

Headlines like “Oshkosh Police file suit to keep money taken in drug raid,” and “Former UWO worker accused of stealing from Greek account” are included in a bundle of articles about the Winnebago County Circuit Court.

The journalism department’s 2014 Advanced Reporting class created a website using various kinds of digital technology to report and document on operations of the court.

Why this court?

Screen Shot 2014-05-22 at 9.57.18 AM

After searching the website that the class created, I came upon a video with professor Miles Maguire giving insightful information.

According to the video (which you can find below), 10 years ago the county’s district attorney, Joseph Paulus, pleaded guilty to corruption charges. This raised questions about what other problems might exist.

Journalists can look into court cases and report on what is happening, even behind the scenes, which explains why this made a good project for the students.

The class only had 14 weeks, and luckily there is always a good flow of cases in the court giving them a lot to work with. The students where challenged to bring some of the stories to the surface. The stories where then uploaded to the website in categories:

  • Faces of the law
  • Criminal justice
  • Campus and the courts
  • Civil proceedings
  • Special reports

Students linked their posts to the Facebook and Twitter accounts they created to generate views and traffic to the website. They succeeded in informing the community on what is happening around them.

Check out the website, and see how two students got a behind-the-scenes look at an alternative sentencing program that targets the area’s growing drug problem.


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