From the editor: Let’s get to work

Dear Friends of IowaWatch,

The IRS notified me Tuesday that it granted the Iowa Center tax-exempt status, a designation vitally important to you and to our mission.

Stephen Berry

Granted under 501 (c)(3) of the revenue code and related laws, it means your donations are tax deductible, and it designates the Center a “public charity.” We get that status because we educate students and do public service journalism that digs into public affairs issues and holds institutions serving society accountable.

Working for free, we collaborate with Iowa news organizations on projects and produce stories independently, which we will give to news organizations that ask for them in plenty of time to allow publication simultaneously with IowaWatch.org.

We are off to a quick start. But to continue, we need your help to buy computer equipment, software, cameras and audio recorders and pay for public records requests and travel expenses incurred in the pursuit of stories.

Donations Like Priming the Pump

Like priming a pump, your individual donations, combined with the inspiring volunteer work of our founding IowaWatch team of student interns and board members, will let us keep working, building our credibility for solid, journalistic performance, which is what foundations need to see when considering our grant applications for larger amounts of money.

With start up grants, we will hire a top-level professional to become the full-time executive director-editor, a professional reporter/data analyst and a funding sustainability specialist to help find revenue independent of gifts and grants.

‘Young Guns’ Building a Record

Thanks to our volunteer team and early contributors, our track record is growing. In collaboration with The Cedar Rapids Gazette-GazetteOnline, we produced a front-page project [with a full inside page for run-over content], raising questions about the responses of the University of Iowa and news media when students go missing. The package included a video, audio, photographs and several sidebars. In a second collaboration, we are working on a major project with Iowa Public Radio, whose reach is statewide. Independently, we are working on four other projects – two are near completion. All four will be available to news organizations that ask.

Center Gets National Notice

We are getting noticed. The American Journalism Review, a respected journal that covers and often critiques the profession, wrote an article about IowaWatch, dubbing our inquisitive, probing staff the "Young Guns." Not long afterwards, we joined the Investigative News Network, an association of about 40 non-profit news organizations like ours. This will provide us opportunities to engage in national projects.

We are indebted to the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, which served as our fiscal sponsor so we could solicit donations pending IRS action. Now, with our own tax-exempt status and the major organizational work behind us, we, with your help, are ready to go.

None of us get paid, and working for free is expensive. Nevertheless, together, we will realize our vision for a public-spirited free press.

So join us. Work with us. Support us.

Thank you,

Stephen J. Berry,

Interim Executive Director-Editor

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