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.

IowaWatch names new editor and adds veteran fundraiser

IowaWatch, or the Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism, has named Suzanne Behnke as its new editor, marking a transition for Behnke from executive director to a new role focused on developing high-impact investigative news and fostering collaborations. Mary Ungs-Sogaard

IowaWatch also has hired Mary Ungs-Sogaard, a proven fundraiser and long-time newspaper publisher in Eastern Iowa, as the news nonprofit’s business developer. The leaders will boost IowaWatch’s capacity to provide high-quality public affairs news and information that improves civic life and public policy outcomes across Iowa. “I am grateful to have a role with IowaWatch that allows me to focus on in-depth journalism and working with talented reporters and writers,” said Behnke. “This change plays to my strengths and to Mary’s.

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.

IowaWatch Transparency: Read Our 990 Tax Return Here

You may read here the Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism 990 tax return for 2018. The center runs the IowaWatch.org news website and educational programming for student journalists who produce in-depth reporting with IowaWatch staff journalists. The non-profit, non-partisan center, founded in February 2010, spent $134,688, while raising $125,312 in 2018, both increases over the previous year, the return shows. The center received a boost at the end of the year when donors responded to the center’s inclusion in a Knight News Match fund drive. That fund drive resulted in a $24,688 grant disbursed by The Fund for Nonprofit News at The Miami Foundation in 2019.

IowaWatch Wins Top Broadcast News Awards For Politics, Farm And Agribusiness Reporting

The IowaWatch Connection radio program collected seven awards — including first place for political coverage and farm/agribusiness reporting — for large market radio reporting during 2018 at the annual Iowa Broadcast News Association convention in Johnston, Iowa, on Saturday, April 13, 2019. The radio program had won first place the previous year, too, for farm and agribusiness reporting. The program is part of IowaWatch’s multimedia reporting effort. Each week, program host and producer Jeff Stein and IowaWatch reporters examine a story in depth during a 23-minute program that airs on 21 radio stations and then serves as an IowaWatch.org podcast. The program’s winning entries were:

First place: Political coverage for reporting on year-round interest in politics.

IowaWatch Starts 10th Year on Feb. 4, 2019

The Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism started its 10th year of operation after hitting its ninth anniversary on February 4, 2019. Here are some fast facts about the center.