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How We Did This: Behind the Scenes of Iowa’s Payday Loan Trap


Research and legwork for this story began in late 2013, based on a suggestion by Charles Munro, a lecturer and associate director of undergraduate studies at the University of Iowa School of Journalism and Mass Communication and a volunteer professional advisor for IowaWatch. As IowaWatch reporter and data analyst Lauren Mills started digging into Iowa’s payday loan industry, the story kept growing. In trips to Davenport, Dubuque, Cedar Rapids, Mount Vernon and Des Moines over an eight-month period and in interviews with people across the state, Mills tracked the impacts of the payday loan industry across Iowa. Delving into political contributions and the intricacies of the payday loan businesses in Iowa involved diving down a rabbit hole of information. Political donors associated with the payday loan industry were identified based on classifications by the National Institute on Money in State Politics as well as by identifying owners of major payday lending businesses. Continue Reading →

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Listen To Podcast: IowaWatch’s Latest KXIC Radio Appearance

Gabriella Dunn

Jay Capron, host of Your Town on KXIC radio, AM 800, featured on Tuesday, June 17, the IowaWatch story on the emergence of cellulosic ethanol, or trashanol, whole also giving a mention to the original IowaWatch documentary, "Breaking the Cycle: Meth Addiction in the Heartland". Gabriella Dunn, the IowaWatch reporter who wrote the trashanol story, and IowaWatch Executive Director-Editor Lyle Muller were Capron's guests. You can listen to KXIC's podcast below. Your Town features IowaWatch the third Tuesday of every month. Advertising with this podcast is KXIC's and does not support IowaWatch. Continue Reading →

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American Journalism Review News Editor Joins IowaWatch Board

Lisa Rossi

Lisa Rossi, news editor for the American Journalism Review (AJR) and a faculty member at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, has joined the Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism board of directors. AJR is an online publication that covers innovation in media. Rossi, a University of Iowa graduate, has worked at the Des Moines Register, The Gazette, Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, The Missoulian and St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and at The Daily Iowan, where she served as a metro editor. She was an associate regional editor for in Maryland before joining AJR, managing writers, editing stories and developing strategies to grow online audiences. Continue Reading →

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Support IowaWatch Journalism With A Tax-Deductible Donation

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The Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism is in an ambitious year in which it wants to engage Iowans in news that affects their lives. You can support that effort with a tax-deductible donation. The Center, founded in 2010 and distributing news through its website,, and various news outlets statewide, is the only non-profit, non-partisan news and student training organization of its kind in Iowa. With its three-fold mission: public service, education, and sustainability, the center is dedicated to:

Long-form, in depth investigative and public affairs journalism. Collaborating with other news media on local, state, regional and national level
Being transparent about its work and its funding sources. Continue Reading →

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Podcast: IowaWatch Stories On Student Debt And Travel Abroad Featured On KXIC

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Jay Capron, host of Our Town on KXIC radio, AM 800, featured on Tuesday, May 20, IowaWatch stories about debt carried by college graduates in Iowa and hidden costs of study abroad for college students. Our Town features IowaWatch the third Tuesday of every month. Continue Reading →

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