Citizens in possession of good information is the only way a system of free people governing themselves can work. We call such a system democracy. By “good” information, I mean information that has been researched, verified, double-checked — even sometimes dug with stubborn effort from dark corners – and that is demonstrably factual and truthful. There is more than one source for this kind of information, thankfully, but there is one group of professionals especially dedicated to discovering and sharing information widely for the public good. We call these special people journalists. IowaWatch exists to make sure we don’t take either the information or those who report it for granted.
IowaWatch is dedicated to conducting investigative and public-interest journalism that provides Iowans with the information they need now to make wise choices on many issues that affect all of us. IowaWatch also is dedicated to training and educating journalists for the future so that Iowans can be guided by the light of good information for a long time to come.
It may be IowaWatch’s focus on this long game – nurturing the next generation of serious, professional journalists – that has most earned my admiration and support. I support IowaWatch financially (albeit modestly), and I spread the good word about it whenever I can. It offers a crucial, formative training ground I wish had been available to me when I was a journalism student so long ago.
Up until quite recently, I have taken democracy – its very existence and smooth functioning — for granted. But those paying attention know that worldwide, democracy is imperiled. It even is fraying at the edges in this country. We forget what an audacious proposition and experiment American democracy was at its inception. We need to realize it is so even now. There is nothing given about it, especially in a “post-truth” era and when so many news organizations we used to rely on increasingly fail us.
Is government by and for the governed worth saving? IowaWatch thinks so. But people can only govern themselves effectively when they are equipped with solid, proven, and well-presented information. That is what IowaWatch is committed to giving to us all – here and now, and as far into the future as we dare imagine. They’re very good at what they do, but to succeed fully they need us all to pitch in. It is, after all, a “public” enterprise. That’s us.
This year IowaWatch is one of 150 nonprofit newsrooms nationwide selected to be part of the national NewsMatch fund drive for nonprofit journalism. Your charitable gift Dec. 31 to IowaWatch will be doubled by NewsMatch. That’s a good deal. I am taking advantage of it. I hope you’ll join me. I can’t think of a better cause.