Local Explanatory Journalism at its Finest

Anna Clark, at Columbia Journalism Review, reports on “an exhaustive, densely analytical, data-rich four-part series (one, two, three, four) on partisan polarization in metropolitan Milwaukee, produced this month by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.” As Clark, notes, this series presents a serious challenge to the conventional wisdom that says high quality, deeply explanatory and data-driven journalism is only possible at the national level.

Like all local newspapers, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel must contend with a significant existential threat posed by the digital age, but, unlike most, it has chosen to meet this threat in part by investing in remarkably sophisticated investigative reporting. In this case, the final product is noteworthy outside Milwaukee, both for the hopeful example of journalism it presents and the drearily generalizable causes and consequences of political polarization it illuminates.


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