IowaWatch honored Des Moines Register reporter Clark Kauffman and University of Iowa professor emeritus Harold Hammond during the fourth annual Celebrating a Free Press and Open Government banquet on Thursday, Sept. 29, at the Des Moines Marriott Downtown hotel. Hammond was honored posthumously.
Kauffman won the Stephen Berry Free Press Champion Award, presented to a working journalist or group of journalists or a journalism educator in the state of Iowa.
Kauffman’s stories have revealed many wrongdoings that, in many cases, happened at the expense of less fortunate Iowans. Those Iowans include, but are not limited to, Iowa Juvenile Home residents, exploited mentally disabled workers and residents at substandard nursing homes. Kauffman helped give these Iowans a voice.
The Pulitzer Prize finalist is an engagement editor at The Register, writing for the opinion section and continuing to draw attention to important issues in Iowa.
Hammond’s widow, Pat Palmer of Coralville, accepted on his behalf the Randy Brubaker Free Press Champion Award, given to an Iowa citizen or citizens who have done significant open government and records work over several years in a role other than through journalism.
Hammond was honored for his efforts to hold the Iowa State Board of Regents accountable under Iowa’s Open Meetings Law when they’ve selected each of the last two University of Iowa presidents. Hammond died on June 11, 2016.
Hammond sued the regents twice for how they vetted candidates for the University of Iowa presidency. He first sued in 2007 in a case settled out of court with an agreement in which the presidential search committee conceded it violated the Open Meetings Law.
He sued again in 2015 after the selection of UI President Bruce Harreld. That lawsuit was pending when Hammond died at his Coralville home.
Two other awards were given at the banquet by its co-host, the Iowa Freedom of Information Council. That group, whose 40th anniversary was celebrated during the banquet, gave its Harrison “Skip” Weber Friend of the First Amendment Award to Steve Delaney and Art Cullen.
Delaney has been the editor and publisher of The Hawk Eye in Burlington, Iowa, since 2004. He has continued the newspaper’s legacy by being a strong and effective advocate for the First Amendment and for open and transparent government in the state of Iowa.
The Hawk Eye’s editorial pages and in-forums have focused on covering the importance of public access to videos from police officers’ body cameras.
Cullen is the editor and co-owner of the Storm Lake Times, a twice weekly newspaper. The 26-year-old newspaper has an aggressive local reporting and editorial page.
Freedom of Information Council Executive Director Randy Evans said the Storm Lake Times “doesn’t sugarcoat their opinions,” especially on the environment and on public access to meetings and records of government.
Also honored at the banquet was IowaWatch staff reporter and University of Iowa senior Krista Johnson.
Johnson won the annual 2016 IowaWatch/Fotini Perlmutter Award given to an outstanding IowaWatch student journalist from the University of Iowa School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Johnson, a senior from Davenport, joined IowaWatch in fall 2015. She was a summer Society of Professional Journalists regional fellow at Omaha Public Radio.
Besides IowaWatch and the Freedom of Information Council, presenting sponsors for the banquet were the Iowa State University Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication and the Iowa Newspaper Foundation.
The Celebrating a Free Press and Open Government banquet is support by:
The Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism is an independent, nonprofit and nonpartisan news service that collaborates with Iowa media partners to produce investigative and explanatory journalism, and trains college students to do this kind of work at a professional and ethical level.
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