DARLINGTON, Wis. — Some local government officials in southwestern Wisconsin want to prosecute journalists who “selectively report” on the results of an upcoming water study in the region.
The study is due soon in Lafayette, Grant and Iowa counties. A resolution introduced for a vote at the Lafayette County Conservation Committee meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 12, calls for a press release on the results and warns the media to print it without alteration and not to “glean information and selectively report it in order to interpret the results for their own means.” The resolution calls for violators to be prosecuted.
The resolution cited past leaks and slander. The decision comes after many media outlets misreported the round of results released in August.
The Telegraph Herald correctly reported that 32 of 35 wells tested showed evidence of fecal contamination, while noting that the 35 wells tested were chosen because they previously had tested positive for coliform bacteria or high nitrates, “which means the 91% rate of contamination cannot be generalized to the region at large.”
Other media outlets failed to make that distinction, reporting that 91% of all wells in the area had issues.
Lafayette County Board Member Kriss Marion, who posted the proposed resolution on Facebook, called it “nonsense.”