FILE - University of Wisconsin-Madison UW

Bascom Hall on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

(The Center Square) – One Wisconsin lawmaker wants to know why the UW System needs its own news service.

Sen. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, wrote a letter to UW President Jay Rothman last week, asking why the university is offering university-related stories for TV stations, newspapers, and other media outlets to use.

“There are currently at least 227 people working for the various public relations, communication and marketing offices at all 13 campuses and system administration.  According to the salary database maintained by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for UW System employees, the most current data available (2019-2020) shows these 227 people were paid at least $10.5 million annually,” Nass wrote in his letter. “This legion of taxpayer supported public relations bureaucrats in the UW System already have the ability and access to issue press releases, share materials with media sources and promote story ideas.”

Nass’ issue appears to be that he doesn’t trust the UW to be an honest news source, especially when writing about the university.

“It would appear that the UW System, a state government agency, has decided it no longer trusts or desires to allow for the editorial control of independent media sources when reporting on the system,” Nass added. “This is a very disturbing development considering that many of the independent media sources of this state have investigated and reported on numerous serious scandals and administrative mismanagement within the UW System.

The new UW News Service launched Monday. The first three stories are features about the overseas studies of some UW-Eau Claire students, the connections that a UW-Platteville graduate has made in the musical world, and another about a UW-Superior  freshman and her dog who are TikTock stars.

The university says the stories, along with videos and pictures, are free to use as long as newsrooms abide by the terms of use.

Nass took issue with that in his letter as well.

“How could the public trust either the UW System or even some of the independent media sources in providing ethical, fair and balanced reporting after entering into an arrangement with a government-run news service?” Nass asked.