August 22, 2011

IowaWatch to collaborate with the Center for Public Intergrity and Global Integrity

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The Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism-IowaWatch and SourceMedia (Cedar Rapids Gazette), has joined in a 50-state reporting project with two national non-profit journalism organizations.

The Center for Public Integrity and Global Integrity of Washington, D.C., invited IowaWatch into the reporting project earlier this summer. The Johnson County non-profit and the Gazette then teamed upto carry out the Iowa portion of the assignment.

Reporters from the two news organizations will take on the task of critically assessing virtually all branches of state government over the next several months.

The collaboration between the Gazette and IowaWatch is another example of a growing trend toward collaborative journalism throughout the country. This is the first time the two Iowa news organizations have partnered in a national collaboration.

“This is a very complex and ambition collaboration that involves reporters from for-profit and non-profit news organizations along with freelance journalists,” said Stephen J. Berry, interim executive director-editor of IowaWatch and a journalism professor at the University of Iowa. “With so many people and so many moving parts, the coordination has required a herculean effort on the part of Center for Public Integrity and Global Integrity.

“I am always reluctant to describe anything as unprecedented,” Berry said, “but in my four decades in journalism, I cannot recall any other national reporting project as big and complicated as this one. Our young organization, with its cadre of student journalists, is certainly fortunate to have the experience and reporting expertise that Gazette reporters bring to the effort. Their value is immeasurable.”

This will be IowaWatch’s sixth reporting collaboration; it’s third with the Center for Public Integrity and second with SourceMedia/Gazette.

“For IowaWatch and its staff of University of Iowa journalism students, this is a rare and valuable journalistic experience and a thrilling opportunity,” Berry said. “Not only are they engaging in very complex reporting efforts, they are getting first-hand experience in learning what is required to put together a national collaborative project.”

The project will evaluate the overall efficacy of anti-corruption and government transparency procedures at the state level, including political financing, civil service management and state budget processes.

According to a release, contributing members will also generate online information authorizing constituents to demand greater responsibility from their respective state officials.

Also collaborating on the project are reporters from the 49 other states, Public Radio International and Global Integrity by way of a $1.5 million grant.

Omidyar Network, a philanthropic investment firm, will donate up to $1 million and the Rita Allen Foundation will provide $500,000 in matching funds.

The Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism-IowaWatch, is an independent, nonpartisan news service incorporated as a non-profit in Iowa in February 2010.

Media Contact: Ryan Roccaforte, (563) 209-4684, ryan-roccaforte@uiowa.edu

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