On October 3, The Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism-IowaWatch.org and Iowa Newspaper Association will host the first of what organizers hope will be an annual banquet that brings attention to the need of a free press and open government in our democracy.
The banquet will feature guest speaker Andy Hall, executive director of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, and the inaugural giving of awards to two people who have had a signi?cant impact on promoting open government and the notion of a free press in Iowa. Also at the banquet, the presenting sponsor Iowa Freedom of Information Council will announce the winner of its annual Harrison “Skip” Weber Friend of the First Amendment award.
The banquet, at the Clarion Hotel Highlander Conference Center, 2525 N. Dodge St., is a fundraiser for the Iowa Center for Investigative Journalism, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, nonpartisan organization.
Sponsors for the Celebrating a Free Press and Open Government banquet are the Iowa Freedom of Information Council; the Associated Press; The Gazette and KCRG powered by Iowa Source Media; the Iowa City Press-Citizen and the Iowa City-Coralville Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Started as an idea to extend IowaWatch’s mission to serve the public with in-depth investigative reporting and the training of college students in Iowa to do this work at high level, the award banquet is co-hosted by the Iowa Newspaper Association. It will coincide with several other events in Iowa City during the day with that same purpose in mind, of advancing open government and the free flow of information.
The day will kick off with the Iowa Public Information Board’s monthly board meeting at Old Capitol, on the University of Iowa campus, followed by the Iowa Freedom of Information Council’s annual business meeting at the Iowa Memorial Union. In the afternoon, the Iowa Public Information Board and University of Iowa will present a two-part symposium to discuss transparency at the university and transparency in a digital age. The banquet will wrap up the day of events with a dinner, awards ceremony and guest speaker.
The IowaWatch/Iowa Newspaper Association awards are:
- The Bill Monroe Free Press Champion Award, which will honor an Iowa citizen who is not a working journalist or journalism educator but who has done signi?cant work over several years to advance the access to hard-to-obtain information that has an impact on the public good.
- The Steve Berry Free Press Champion Award, which will honor a professional working journalist or journalism educator who has advanced the public’s access to government proceedings or brought the attention to the benefits of open government and free press.
Andy Hall, has several years of experiences in investigative journalism and is the founder and executive director of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, WisconsinWatch.org, in Madison, Wisconsin. Hall will talk about his recent battle with the Wisconsin Legislature, which passed a budget in June that would have banned his center from being on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus and university employees from having a role with the center.Contacts: Lyle Muller, IowaWatch executive director-editor, 319-389-4477; Joy Chang, IowaWatch marketing and communications director, 319-333-5804.
FULL DAY OF CELEBRATING A FREE PRESS AND OPEN GOVERNMENT IN IOWA
October 3 has been designated by several groups to celebrate democracy and bring together Iowa’s leading advocates for open government and the rights of a free press. All of the events will be in Iowa City and are open to the public. The schedule:
- 10 a.m. to noon — Iowa Public Information Board meeting, Old Capitol Museum Senate Chamber, free admission
- 1 to 2 p.m. — Iowa Freedom of Information Council Annual Business Meeting, Iowa Memorial Union, Iowa Theater, free admission.
- 2 to 3 p.m. — Transparency at the University of Iowa-Iowa Public Information Board Symposium, Iowa Memorial Union, Iowa Theater, free admission.
- 3 to 4 p.m. — Transparency in the Digital Age-Iowa Public Information Board Symposium, Iowa Memorial Union, Iowa Theater, free admission.
- 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. — Celebrating a Free Press and Open Government Banquet, Clarion Hotel Highlander Conference Center, West Ballroom, $50/plate.