Beyond the Headlines

Citizens and journalists come together to share knowledge and solve local issues.

This special WH initiative deepened the public's understanding and appreciation of the vital connections between democracy, the humanities, journalism, and an informed citizenry.

Started in 2018, Beyond the Headlines responded to concerns about the public’s declining trust in the news media and the effects that loss of trust could have on civic participation and democracy. Public trust was not the only concern; local news coverage in traditional media outlets has been rapidly declining. That means less local information is available to help the public make important decisions. This trend, and related ones such as the rise of social media as news sources and intentional misrepresentation of information, raise serious questions about whether we as citizens can access the information we need to participate knowledgeably in civic life.

In 2021 and 2022, we held three events that brought together journalists, elected officials, experts, and citizens to learn together about Wisconsin water issues. We were also proud to support the keynote address, "Can Journalism Bring About Justice" by Sewell Chan, at the 2022 annual gathering organized by the Center for Journalism Ethics at UW Madison.

This program is part of the “Democracy and the Informed Citizen” Initiative, administered by the Federation of State Humanities Councils. We thank The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for their generous support of this initiative and the Pulitzer Prizes for their partnership.

Want to know more about the issues and how they impact Wisconsin?

Visit our special Beyond The Headlines RESOURCES page! This collection of videos, weblinks, and articles can be sorted by region, topic, and tag!

Dig into the issues


Wildly varying Lake Michigan water levels have played havoc with the state's shoreline and infrastructure. Over the next 5 years, Wisconsin could face $245 million to combat the impacts of a climate tug-of-war to address the more extreme weather affecting our shoreline.

Beyond the Headlines Journalism Justics

Can Journalism Bring About Justice?


On April 29, 2022, Sewell Chan, editor in chief at The Texas Tribune, provided the keynote address for the 13th annual journalism ethics conference, “Centering Equity: Journalism, Ethics & A Just Future.” The news can be a vehicle for exposing injustice, uplifting the powerless, and amplifying voices that are ignored. The news can also titillate and sensationalize. It can stoke discord, grievances and resentments. It can get lost in trivialities and ignore painful truths. In his talk, Chan explores these complexities at this particuler moment in history.

Beyond the Headlines climate backgrounder

A Video Backgrounder on climate weirding


We brought together six panelists to focus on the human impacts of climate "weirding" in Wisconsin. This video from the event explores guiding questions including:

  • What are the public policy implications of climate "weirding" on the lives and livelihoods of Wisconsin residents: from flood to drought, storm intensity to changing temperatures?
  • What lessons could be learned from examining inequities in how these impacts are being borne by communities across the state?
  • How do we best convey these data and stories about current and predicted conditions, existing policies and their impacts, and potential mitigation?

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