Kathleen Richardson and state Sen. Pam Jochum were announced on Oct. 3 as the first recipients of awards given by the Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism – IowaWatch to Iowans who have promoted the importance of a free press and open government.
The 2013 Free Press Champion Awards – one for a professional journalist or educator and the other for an individual who is not a journalist and who has made significant contributions to advancing the public’s right to know and government transparency in Iowa – were given at a Celebrating a Free Press and Open Government Banquet in Iowa City, hosted by the Iowa Center, Iowa Newspaper Association and presenting sponsor, the Iowa Freedom of Information Council.
Richardson, executive secretary of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council and director and associate professor of news/Internet at the Drake University School of Journalism and Mass Communication, received the Stephen Berry Free Press Champion Award. An inaugural Iowa Public Information Board member, Richardson conducted public workshops in several Iowa cities among her other duties in 2012 and 2013, showing Iowans how to become engaged citizens with local government. The award is named after one of IowaWatch’s cofounders and its first executive director.
Sen. Pam Jochum, D-Dubuque, received the Bill Monroe Free Press Champion Award, named after a long-time advocate for open government, former executive director of the Iowa Newspaper Association and Gov. Terry Branstad’s adviser on government transparency. Jochum was instrumental in pushing several years for a bill that established the Iowa Public Information Board. Branstad signed the bill into law in May 2012. Jochum is the president of the Iowa Senate.
Additionally, IowaWatch staff reporter Sarah Hadley received an IowaWatch/Fotini Perlmutter Undergraduate Award at the banquet. This award is given to an IowaWatch journalist in good standing with the University of Iowa School of Journalism and Mass Communication and pursuing a career in explanatory reporting. It carries a $250 scholarship donated by David Perlmutter, the UI school’s former director. Hadley, a junior, is from Cedar Rapids.
The Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that does investigative and public affairs journalism; makes that journalism available free on its website, IowaWatch.org, and through media partners; and trains college students to do this journalism at a high, ethical level. Other banquet sponsors were the Associated Press, Iowa City Press-Citizen, The Gazette and KCRG powered by Source Media Group of Iowa, and the Iowa City-Coralville Convention & Visitors Bureau.