DAA 2016: Andy Hall, BA'82
Andy Hall won national recognition during more than 25 years as an investigative reporter, exposing corruption in the government and neglect of vulnerable populations, before founding the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, where he is executive director.
Hall caught the watchdog bug early as a reporter and editor for his student newspaper at Perry Central High School in Southern Indiana. After his junior year, he attended IU’s High School Journalism Institute.
In high school and college, Hall also was a reporter for the Tell City News, where his mother was a freelancer. Once he arrived at IU, he immediately went to work at the Indiana Daily Student. By his sophomore year, according to journalism archives, he was working 30 to 50 hours a week covering IU’s administration. He became editor-in-chief in spring 1981, calling for more in-depth, aggressive stories in the paper.
A letter from Hall to journalism director Richard Gray in July 1980 asks that the school keep Hall’s address and phone number private. “P.S. This is to make it difficult for the KKK to contact me,” he wrote. During a summer internship with the Arizona Republic, he had angered Klan members by infiltrating the organization and exposing its secret rituals and plans.
Hall graduated from IU in 1982 with bachelor’s degrees in journalism and political science. He worked briefly as a copyboy for The New York Times, but soon moved to the Arizona Republic. While there, he helped break the “Keating Five” scandal, in which five U.S. senators, including John McCain, were accused of corruption.
In 1991, Hall and his wife, Dee, also a journalism graduate and former IDS staffer, moved to Dee’s hometown of Madison, Wisconsin. Both joined the Wisconsin State Journal. As an investigative reporter, Hall exposed failing systems in public schools and troubled neighborhoods.
Hall has been honored with more than 30 awards for his reporting, including National Headliner, Gerald Loeb, Education Writers Association, Inland Press Association and James K. Batten awards.
Hall left the State Journal in 2009 to found the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, where Dee now is managing editor. The nonprofit, nonpartisan center produces investigative reports and trains student and professional journalists, focusing on government integrity and quality-of-life issues to inform the citizenry and strengthen democracy.
Collaborating with Wisconsin public radio and television, the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Journalism & Mass Communication, and others, the center is guided by three values that Andy and Dee trace to their IU roots: Protect the vulnerable. Expose wrongdoing. Seek solutions.
The center has produced nearly 300 major news reports that have been picked up in Wisconsin and nationwide, reaching an estimated audience of more than 56 million people and winning more than 40 journalism awards.
The center’s high-impact stories have served as catalysts for public debate, hearings, legislation and reforms. Its replicable model is expanding the search for truth, even during this era of declining resources for reliable, nonpartisan investigative journalism.