Iowa’s Judicial Branch flunked a recent transparency and accountability study because of barriers to public access to information, a lack of legal requirements for judicial evaluations and issues surrounding potential conflicts of interest. They include limited access judicial officers’ asset disclosures and a lack of restrictions on judges returning to the private sector after the bench.
The 2015 State Integrity Investigation, a data-driven assessment of state government, found that in state after state, open records laws are laced with exemptions and part-time legislators and agency officials engage in glaring conflicts of interests and cozy relationships with lobbyists. Meanwhile, feckless, understaffed watchdogs struggle to enforce laws as porous as honeycombs.
Iowa Center co-founders Stephen J. Berry and Robert Gutsche Jr. attended the second annual conference on new journalism and media ethics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on April 30, 2010. The conference, which included dozens of regional and national journalists and academics, was hosted by UW-Madison’s Center for Journalism Ethics in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. “As new entrants into the exciting world of non-profit journalism, we gained valuable knowledge and new ideas from some of this movement’s courageous pioneers, like Charles Lewis, founder of the Center for Public Integrity,” said Berry, interim executive director of the Iowa Center and associate professor of journalism at The University of Iowa. “Personally, I came away from this conference inspired to make full disclosure and transparency signature characteristics of the Center.”
Participants discussed the need for new media and non-profit outlets to apply the highest standards of ethics, including a commitment to transparency about donors and news staff. They also stressed the importance of collaboration with media and other partners.