Jessica Arp of WISC-TV named 2019 Distinguished Wisconsin Watchdog

Jessica Arp

Jessica Arp, the assistant news director and chief political reporter for WISC-TV and, has been named the 2019 recipient of the Distinguished Wisconsin Watchdog Award.

The award recognizes an individual’s extraordinary contributions to open government or investigative journalism in Wisconsin and is a highlight of the ninth annual Wisconsin Watchdog Awards reception and dinner, set for April 16.

Arp has reported on Wisconsin politics for WISC-TV in Madison since 2007 and has received Edward R. Murrow, Wisconsin Broadcasters Association, and Emmy awards for her coverage of Wisconsin elections. In addition to her reporting duties, Arp has been involved in leading efforts in investigative techniques, innovation, and social media among the staff to help build the WISC-TV digital brand.

“For more than a decade Jessica Arp has been holding public servants accountable,” Tom Bier, former vice president and general manager at WISC-TV, wrote in his nomination letter.

“It’s a consistent record of strong investigative stories based in research, data use, strong visuals and easy-to-understand language. Jessica has carved a path and shown that investigative reporting is not only important but can be made relevant to news consumers.”

Arp has fact-checked more than 100 claims made by politicians, including in political commercials, in WISC-TV’s ongoing Reality Check series.

Her reporting uncovered problems with the oversight of limousine companies following a deadly 2016 crash. The report documented flaws in the current system, while exploring potential solutions and informing consumers of steps to take to keep themselves safe.

Arp’s most recent investigative work detailed problems with completing a multi-million dollar computer upgrade of the state online benefits system.

The Distinguished Wisconsin Watchdog Award is presented jointly by the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council, the Madison Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, the Wisconsin Newspaper Association, Wisconsin Broadcasters Association and University of Madison-Wisconsin School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Arp will be honored at the Wisconsin Watchdog Awards reception and dinner, scheduled for April 16 at The Madison Club, 5 E. Wilson St. The reception begins at 5 p.m. and dinner at 6 p.m. The event is presented by the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council and the Madison Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

Attendance is limited to 150 and in recent years, all tickets have been sold.

Also at the event, Wisconsin’s largest newspaper and a small Madison paper produced mostly by teens will receive honors in the 2019 Openness Awards, or Opees, bestowed annually by the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council.

The awards recognize extraordinary achievement in the arena of open government.