List of recipients of Berry, Brubaker awards

STEPHEN BERRY FREE PRESS CHAMPIONS

(For current journalist or journalism educator)

2021: Clark Kauffman, Iowa Capital Dispatch

2020: No awards due to COVID-19 pandemic

2019: Carol Hunter, Des Moines Register

2018: Herb Strentz, Drake University

2017: Randy Evans, Iowa Freedom of information Council

2016: Clark Kauffman, Des Moines Register

2015: Mary Mason and Jim Compton, The Spotlight (Muscatine, IA)

2014: Brian Cooper, The Telegraph Herald (Dubuque, IA)

2013: Kathleen Richardson, Iowa Freedom of Information Council and Drake University

RANDY BRUBAKER FREE PRESS CHAMPIONS

(For attention to free press principles outside of journalism)

2021: Polly Carver-Kimm, former spokesperson for Iowa Department of Public Health

2020: No awards due to COVID-19 pandemic

2019: Margaret Johnson, Iowa Public Information board executive director

2018: Bill Monroe, Iowa Newspaper Association

2017: Chris Mudge, Iowa Newspaper Association

2016: Harold Hammond (post-humously)

2015: Keith Luchtel, first Iowa Public Information Board executive director, governor’s open government liaison, long-time media lobbyist

2014: Michael Gartner, Iowa Cubs president

2013: State Sen. Pam Jochum, Dubuque

Sunset on the Farm returns to support IowaWatch’s mission

Iowa City, Iowa – Corridor area residents are invited to enjoy great food, wine, music, and scenery at an annual fundraiser to support IowaWatch.org. Get tickets here. Sunset on the Farm will take place Thursday, September 23rd, from 6 to 9 p.m. at Walker Homestead just outside of Iowa City. 

This event will consist of unlimited pizza and salad, s’mores for dessert, access to a cash bar, a silent auction, and live music from the Mission Bluegrass Band. Tickets are $40 for adults and $20 for children over 5. 

IowaWatch.org is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that provides Iowa’s news outlets with top-quality in-depth reporting for free while training future journalists. Tickets and other donations at Sunset on the Farm go toward supporting Iowa-focused investigative journalism such as the recent “Small Town Solutions” project. This is the first Sunset on the Farm since September 2019.

How IowaWatch alums are shaping COVID-19 coverage across the U.S.

Elderly folks are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. So are jail and prison inmates living in close quarters that allow the virus to easily spread. 

That means elderly inmates face a double whammy of risk. So why was Illinois offering so few reprieves to elderly inmates at a time when the state was letting out hundreds of other prisoners to alleviate crowding? And why does Illinois incarcerate so many older folks to begin with? 

Emily Hoerner is answering such life-and-death questions for Injustice Watch, a Chicago-based nonprofit news outlet that exposes institutional failures that obstruct justice and equality, where she has reported since 2015. 

Hoerner was among IowaWatch’s first interns in 2011 and 2012 as a University of Iowa student, and she is among a long list of IowaWatch alums who are now watchdogging government officials, shining a light on injustices and offering critical information to communities during a pandemic that has upended life across the United States. “IowaWatch was the place where I really first learned about the importance of understanding the nuance in stories.

IowaWatch joins national collaboration on rural education during COVID-19

The Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism – IowaWatch.org has been selected as a partner to report on how COVID-19 is changing and challenging rural school districts, the Institute for Nonprofit News reported. It is IowaWatch’s third reporting collaboration in the past year. “Our goal is to look at the smaller districts that have fewer resources and how they are meeting the challenges of learning during a global pandemic,” said Executive Director Suzanne Behnke. The Walton Family Foundation is providing a grant that will allow IowaWatch and other collaboration members, El Paso Matters, The Nevada Independent, New Mexico In-Depth, Scalawag, Underscore Media and Wisconsin Watch, to report and write on rural schools in their respective states during the 2020-2021 school year. The project will produce three reports by IowaWatch and by each member over the six months of the grant, at the start of the school year, toward the middle of the fall and a last installment toward the end of 2020.

Institute for Nonprofit News names IowaWatch’s Suzanne Behnke to national Emerging Leaders Council

Suzanne Behnke, executive director of the Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism and its news outlet, IowaWatch, has been named to the Institute for Nonprofit News Emerging Leaders Council. INN announced Thursday, May 21, that Behnke is among 11 leaders selected for the third Emerging Leaders Council, which identifies and supports leaders who will advance the nonprofit news sector throughout the next decade. 

Suzanne Behnke, IowaWatch executive director-editor

“This is a terrific opportunity to network, to support nonprofit news and to find ways to strengthen IowaWatch,” Behnke said. “I am excited to join a terrific group of journalists.”

Behnke joined the Center in 2019 after spending two years at the Des Moines Business Record, where she was an editor and contributor.  She also is a journalism and communications instructor at Simpson College in Indianola. Behnke, a native Iowan, has a long and rich news reporting and editing history in the state. She was a reporter, copy editor and page designer at The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier from 1997 to 2000 before joining The Des Moines Register staff.

Tell us about your mental health struggles amid COVID-19, other disasters

We’re digging into the stressful toll of wildfires, hurricanes and floods — and now COVID-19 on top of them. We need your help. Every year, weather-related disasters ravage communities across the United States, creating scenes traumatic and, increasingly, familiar. Deadly firestorms throughout the West. Historic floods in the Farm Belt. Catastrophic hurricanes with record rains in the South and along the East Coast.

Meet IowaWatch’s newest staff writer, Drake student Marie Nalan

IowaWatch is delighted to introduce you to our latest staff member, Marie Nalan of Drake University. Here she shares a little about herself. You’ll see her byline soon. My name is Marie Nalan, a soon-to-be professional reporter from Grand Rapids, Minn. While I grew up in Minnesota close to the Canadian border, I have family roots in both Mason City and Clinton, Iowa.