UW-Madison program brings Milwaukee journalist Toya Washington to campus

March 30, 2015 By John Lucas

Toya Washington, an anchor at WISN 12 News in Milwaukee, has been chosen as this year’s Wisconsin Journalist in Residence at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Photo: Toya Washington

Toya Washington

The program brings state journalists to campus to meet with faculty, staff and students in classroom and informal settings and to see firsthand some of the programs, personalities and facilities at the state’s flagship university. Last year, Joel Christopher, vice president of news for Gannett Wisconsin Media, visited campus.

“Connecting with people and communities across the state is a critical part of UW–Madison’s mission,” says Vince Sweeney, vice chancellor for university relations. “We are thrilled Toya is willing to share her experiences, and we know her visit will benefit our students and our campus community.”

Washington, an Emmy winner and four-time nominee for breaking news coverage, joined WISN in 2002 and co-anchors the 5 p.m. newscast for the ABC affiliate. She previously co-anchored the top-rated 6 p.m. newscast, and was a co-anchor and reporter for “12 News This Morning,” which airs weekdays from 5 to 7 a.m.

She grew up in Minneapolis, where she fell in love with the news business in high school during the first day of her internship at WCCO-TV, the CBS affiliate in the Twin Cities. Washington graduated from UW–Madison with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and women’s studies and spent six years at WISC-TV, the CBS affiliate in Madison, working as a weekend news anchor and reporter. She has also been an active member of the National Association of Black Journalists.

Washington, who serves on the Board of Visitors for the UW School of Journalism and Mass Communication, says she believes staying connected to her alma mater helps cultivate an ongoing synergy.

“To get an insider’s view from different generations of journalists and to explore what’s happening right now in the industry, through students and faculty, helps me improve as a journalist. It can help set the tone of where the industry is headed, where it needs to improve and adjust to the changing needs,” says Washington, who will visit campus April 15-16. “The networking and connections are of greater value than most people likely realize. My hope is to deepen this relationship over time.”

Washington’s reports have included coverage of the 2004 presidential campaign, and interviews with noted national figures, including former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services and Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, legendary news anchor Walter Cronkite and U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl.

“Hopefully I can provide a ‘real world’ perspective on what working in this field is really like,” Washington says.

Washington says she is interested in learning more about how the School of Journalism and Mass Communication approaches newsgathering and distribution for the current generation of news consumers and the next. She is also looking forward to spending time with students.

“I think this might be so deeply rooted in me as a journalist, a storyteller, and my natural curiosity, but truthfully, I’m more excited about what they’ll share with me,” she says. “I’ve long said when you think you’ve seen, done and learned it all in this business, you should retire because you’re no longer contributing or effective at your job.”

The Wisconsin Journalist in Residence program is sponsored by University Communications, a division of University Relations.