IowaWatch honored an outstanding journalist and a long-time advocate for newspapers during its fifth annual banquet Thursday night, October 5, at the Des Moines Marriott Downtown.
Randy Evans was given the Stephen Berry Free Press Champion Award for a working journalist, journalism group or journalism educator in Iowa. Chris Mudge was given the Randy Brubaker Free Press Champion Award for an Iowan who has done significant open records work over several years in a role other than journalism.
Evans is the executive director of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council after a long-time career The Des Moines Register in positions that included opinion page editor and state editor. His work helping the Cullen family at the Storm Lake Times obtain public records related to a legal dispute over farm run-off in was instrumental in Times reporting that eventually led to the newspaper’s Art Cullen winning a Pulitzer Prize in editorial writing this year.
Evans continues to write a column, “Stray Thoughts,” while juggling several open government issues and building membership in the Iowa Freedom of Information Council.
Chris Mudge retired in 2015 after serving in several roles at the Iowa Newspaper Association, ending as executive director. The association represents 300 Iowa newspapers.
While at the INA she was a lead lobbying voice at the Iowa Statehouse for issues of open, transparent government and active in the Iowa Freedom of Information Council, serving as a trustee and member of the executive committee.
The Iowa Freedom of Information also presented at the banquet two annual Harrison “Skip” Weber Friend of the First Amendment Awards at the banquet, to the Pulitzer Prize-winning Iowa Cubs owner and former newspaper executive Michael Gartner and Associated Press reporter Ryan Foley.
The banquet’s guest speaker was Jennifer Jacobs, White House correspondent for Bloomberg Politics.
The Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan, investigative news service that does investigative and community affairs journalism in collaboration with other media and trains college student journalists to do this kind of reporting at a high level. The center was incorporated as a non-profit in February 2010.