IowaWatch accepting nominations for returning Berry, Brubaker awards

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Yale Muller/IowaWatch

Iowa Freedom of Information Executive Director Randy Evans speaks to attendees at the 2019 Celebrating a Free Press and Open Government banquet, on Sept. 26, 2019, in Des Moines, Iowa. The Freedom of Information Council and Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism, which runs IowaWatch, co-hosted the banquet.

URBANDALE, Iowa – IowaWatch is taking nominations for the Stephen Berry and Randy Brubaker Free Press Champion awards. The awards are being presented this year after a break in 2020 due to COVID-19.

“We are thrilled to bring these awards back after a year off,” Suzanne Behnke, editor of IowaWatch – the Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism. “These awards recognize the Iowans who bolster democracy as journalists and open records advocates, often persisting through opposition. I can’t think of a more important time to honor those who do this important public service work on behalf of Iowans.”

Nominations can be sent to Behnke at Suzanne-behnke@iowawatch.org by Oct. 29. They should include a letter of nomination and up to three examples of work or the nominee’s efforts or impact.

The awards will be presented Nov. 12 at the upcoming IowaWatch virtual storytelling event. The event is at 7 p.m.

Stephen Berry

The Berry award is named for IowaWatch’s co-founder, who created the nonprofit news outlet in 2010 while a professor at the University of Iowa. Berry previously had a long a career as a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist. The award is given to a working journalist, journalism group or journalism educator in Iowa.

The Brubaker award honors Randy Brubaker, the a longtime Des Moines Register editor who died in 2014. It is given to an Iowan who has done significant open records work over several years in a role other than journalism.

Randy Brubaker

In 2019, the Berry award was given to Carol Hunter, editor of the Des Moines Register editor. The Brubaker award was received by Margaret Johnson, the executive director of the Iowa Public Information Board.

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 nonprofit in February 2010.