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MAD Hero Award Given To Wausau Pilot & Review, Daily Tar Heel Named Bright Spot
Two outlets brave pressure and keep on reporting.
Members in attendance at the September 4, 2023 regular meeting of the Media and Democracy Project voted to recognize the Wausau Pilot & Review, a reader-funded paper serving north-central Wisconsin, as their Media and Democracy Hero Of The Week. The UNC Chapel Hill newspaper, the Daily Tar Heel, was voted MAD’s Local Journalism Bright Spot. Letters of recognition were sent to each outlet and MAD members were encouraged to support them with donations.
The Wausau Pilot & Review covered an August 2021 local county board meeting with accuracy, reporting to its readers that a local businessman had used a slur for a gay person during an exchange. Three witnesses later gave sworn statements asserting the man had, in fact, uttered the word. When the Pilot & Review stood by its reporting, the businessman filed a frivolous defamation lawsuit.
The Pilot & Review has fought back against this attack and egregious misuse of the legal system, but at a stiff cost, amassing close to $150,000 in legal bills. The case was finally dismissed this April. The local businessman, now a Republican state senator, is continuing his attack by appealing the decision.
Despite a newsroom of only 4 staff, the Pilot & Review has managed an outsized, positive impact on its community, exposing water contamination and questionable public contracts. For fighting for their community while standing up to attempts at intimidating the free press, the Wausau outlet has earned MAD’s Media and Democracy Hero Award.
Less than 48 hours after the deadly shooting of Applied Physical Sciences Professor Dr. Zijie Yan on August 28th, a period marked by tenacious and courageous reporting amidst a campus lockdown, the staff of UNC Chapel Hill’s The Daily Tar Heel printed a brilliant cover that captured the harrowing experience of the university community.
The NC Local News Workshop had this to say about the student paper’s work, “Over the last 48 hours, journalists at the independent, student-run Daily Tar Heel have produced careful, deliberate, thorough and powerful coverage — as they went through the lockdown themselves and processed the fear and trauma of the events.” For reporting on behalf of their community while enduring trauma themselves, The Daily Tar Heel has earned MAD’s Local Journalism Bright Spot Award.
Support the Wausau Pilot & Review here.
Support The Daily Tar Heel here.
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