You may read here the Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism’s 990 tax return for 2019. It covers our work at the IowaWatch.org news website and our educational programming for student journalists who produce in-depth reporting with IowaWatch staff journalists.
There is one week set aside each year to salute newspapers for the important role they have played in our nation, a role that goes back to the beginning of these United States. This year, however, waiting until Oct. 4-10 and National Newspaper Week has been difficult, because the coronavirus pandemic and a variety of major news events across our land have tested newspapers, and our communities, in ways we might never have fathomed. Taking stock of the contributions by newspapers, large and small, serves as an important reminder of why our founding fathers wrote freedom of the press into the Constitution’s Bill of Rights – and why the theme for this year’s National Newspaper Week, “America Needs Journalists,” is so appropriate. We have seen our lives and our communities change in dramatic ways because of coronavirus.
The Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism – IowaWatch.org has been selected as a partner to report on how COVID-19 is changing and challenging rural school districts, the Institute for Nonprofit News reported. It is IowaWatch’s third reporting collaboration in the past year. “Our goal is to look at the smaller districts that have fewer resources and how they are meeting the challenges of learning during a global pandemic,” said Executive Director Suzanne Behnke. The Walton Family Foundation is providing a grant that will allow IowaWatch and other collaboration members, El Paso Matters, The Nevada Independent, New Mexico In-Depth, Scalawag, Underscore Media and Wisconsin Watch, to report and write on rural schools in their respective states during the 2020-2021 school year. The project will produce three reports by IowaWatch and by each member over the six months of the grant, at the start of the school year, toward the middle of the fall and a last installment toward the end of 2020.
Suzanne Behnke, executive director of the Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism and its news outlet, IowaWatch, has been named to the Institute for Nonprofit News Emerging Leaders Council. INN announced Thursday, May 21, that Behnke is among 11 leaders selected for the third Emerging Leaders Council, which identifies and supports leaders who will advance the nonprofit news sector throughout the next decade.
“This is a terrific opportunity to network, to support nonprofit news and to find ways to strengthen IowaWatch,” Behnke said. “I am excited to join a terrific group of journalists.”
Behnke joined the Center in 2019 after spending two years at the Des Moines Business Record, where she was an editor and contributor. She also is a journalism and communications instructor at Simpson College in Indianola. Behnke, a native Iowan, has a long and rich news reporting and editing history in the state. She was a reporter, copy editor and page designer at The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier from 1997 to 2000 before joining The Des Moines Register staff.
BySuzanne Behnke / Executive Director and Editor |
IowaWatch is delighted to introduce you to our latest staff member, Marie Nalan of Drake University. Here she shares a little about herself. You’ll see her byline soon. My name is Marie Nalan, a soon-to-be professional reporter from Grand Rapids, Minn. While I grew up in Minnesota close to the Canadian border, I have family roots in both Mason City and Clinton, Iowa.
Fifty-three years ago, I was a high school kid in southern Iowa who knew what I wanted to do with the rest of my life: I wanted to be a journalist. The first step on that journey occurred when I walked into the offices of the Bloomfield Democrat and introduced myself to Gary Spurgeon.
He was the editor. But Gary ended up being my “professor” at the Spurgeon School of Journalism. Working for him my final two years of high school and during vacations when I was in college, I learned lessons from Professor Spurgeon that I am now preaching to others a half century later.
Gary was motivated by a higher purpose as a newspaper editor and publisher. He believed a newspaper is much more than merely a business.
IowaWatch honored an outstanding journalist and long-time advocate for newspapers during its seventh annual banquet Thursday night, Sept. 26, at the Des Moines Marriot Downtown. Carol Hunter was given the Stephen Berry Free Press Champion Award for a working journalist, journalism group or journalism educator in Iowa. Margaret Johnson 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. Hunter has been at the Des Moines Register for nearly 15 years, serving as political editor, news director and now as the executive editor of the state’s largest newspaper.
The seventh annual Celebrating a Free Press and Open Government Banquet will celebrate the work of those who promote open government and an independent news media in Iowa the evening of Sept. 26, 2019, at the Des Moines Marriott in downtown Des Moines.
You may read here the Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism 990 tax return for 2018. The center runs the IowaWatch.org news website and educational programming for student journalists who produce in-depth reporting with IowaWatch staff journalists. The non-profit, non-partisan center, founded in February 2010, spent $134,688, while raising $125,312 in 2018, both increases over the previous year, the return shows. The center received a boost at the end of the year when donors responded to the center’s inclusion in a Knight News Match fund drive. That fund drive resulted in a $24,688 grant disbursed by The Fund for Nonprofit News at The Miami Foundation in 2019.
Several front-line state workers at the Glenwood Resource Center, a state-run institution in Glenwood, Iowa, that cares for severely disabled patients, have raised concerns about the quality of care there after a slew of patient deaths earlier this year, an in-depth report by Des Moines Register Tony Leys revealed. Fourteen Glenwood residents had died at Glenwood between June of 2018 and April of 2019 when the article was published, which staff members say far exceeds normal death rates at the facility. Staff members at the facility got in touch with Leys, who covers healthcare for The Register, “only after complaints raised internally had no effect,” Leys wrote. Current and former staff members expressed concern to Leys that the quality of care at Glenwood had diminished following administrative changes and the unexplained firing of a longtime doctor at the institution. Using Iowa’s Open Records Law, Leys was able to read the resignation letter of a physician who resigned from Glenwood and talk with a former Glenwood pharmacist who left that position because of conditions at the facility.