IowaWatch Wins Community Foundation Grant

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Sarah Stortz (left to right), Tana Gam-ad and Olivia Martin discuss an IowaWatch collaboration they did while reporters at the Cedar Falls High School student newspaper, the Tiger Hi-Line, in early 2016. This photo was taken on April 22, 2016, the day the story published. IowaWatch has won a Community Foundation of Johnson County grant to take on a similar high school journalism collaboration in 2017 that includes schools from Iowa City.

Lauren Mills/IowaWatch

Sarah Stortz (left to right), Tana Gam-ad and Olivia Martin discuss an IowaWatch collaboration they did while reporters at the Cedar Falls High School student newspaper, the Tiger Hi-Line, in early 2016. This photo was taken on April 22, 2016, the day the story published. IowaWatch has won a Community Foundation of Johnson County grant to take on a similar high school journalism collaboration in 2017 that includes schools from Iowa City.

The Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism-IowaWatch learned on Monday, Sept. 26, that it has won a $1,000 Community Foundation of Johnson County grant for a high school journalism project to be undertaken in 2017.

The project’s goal is to work with high school journalists at several school, including those who are interested at City High School’s The Little Hawk and West High School’s West Side Story in Iowa City to produce a statewide in-depth news report.

Working with their school journalism advisers and IowaWatch professionals, the students would be key players in a collaboration with other Iowa high school journalists. Moreover, they will learn about teamwork while producing important information for Iowans, IowaWatch executive director-editor Lyle Muller said.

Cedar Falls High School Tiger Hi-Line reporter Tana Gam-ad listens on March 31, 2016, while IowaWatch Connection host and KXEL radio station manager Jeff Stein explains best practices for getting broadcast audio. Tiger Hi-Line students collaborated with IowaWatch in the pilot program that a Community Foundation of Johnson County grant will help expand in 2017.

Lyle Muller/IowaWatch

Cedar Falls High School Tiger Hi-Line reporter Tana Gam-ad listens on March 31, 2016, while IowaWatch Connection host and KXEL radio station manager Jeff Stein explains best practices for obtaining broadcast audio. Tiger Hi-Line students collaborated with IowaWatch in the pilot program that a Community Foundation of Johnson County grant will help expand in 2017.

IowaWatch did a pilot high school journalism project during the first part of 2016 with students at Cedar Falls High School’s Tiger Hi-Line, whose adviser and teacher is Brian Winkel. That project produced a report on how Iowa teachers differ from classroom to classroom in how they teach about climate change.

A topic for the 2017 project is to be determined.

“We want IowaWatch, a 6 1/2-year-old nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization, to be a catalyst for community discussion about topics, issues, trends and policies that affect Iowans’ lives,” IowaWatch’s application for the Community Foundation of Johnson County grant stated. “We also want to train the next generation of journalists to be discerning thinkers who dig past generalized statements, find the truth, and report it. Journalism should exist to help solve problems through watchdog reporting and dialogue and we want to work with students so that they embrace that ideal.”

“We also think a need exists for stronger, factual reporting about events, trends, institutions and people who affect our lives in a democracy. The need for factual reporting grows as each new form of digital communication lands in our hands. The next generation of news storytellers needs good examples for telling authentic stories. Our model provides that while teaching students their role in that story telling.

“We hope to elevate the level of discussion and understanding of important issues in our community and the level of thinking by those informing the community. And we hope to excite young people to use communication that is factual and useful, in journalism for certain but, if not, any walk of life.”

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The Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism is an independent, nonprofit and nonpartisan news service that collaborates with Iowa media partners to produce investigative and explanatory journalism, and trains college students to do this kind of work at a professional and ethical level. It was founded in 2010.

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