Jenna Johnson, Washington Post political correspondent

The seventh annual Celebrating a Free Press and Open Government Banquet will celebrate the work of those who promote open government and an independent news media in Iowa. The event will be held the evening of Sept. 26, 2019, at the Des Moines Downtown Marriott.

Washington Post political reporter Jenna Johnson, who has Iowa ties, will be the guest speaker. (See below)

The banquet, hosted by the Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism with the Iowa Freedom of Information Council and Iowa Newspaper Foundation, brings awareness to the importance of an open government and an unrestricted press to our democracy. It also is a fundraiser for the Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism, which operates IowaWatch.

Iowa Freedom Of Information Council Executive Director Randy Evans gives former KCCI-TV News Director Dave Busiek a Harrison “Skip” Weber Award Friend of the First Amendment Award at last year’s annual Celebrating a Free Press and Open Government Banquet. Credit: Bailey Ramsey/IowaWatch

The Iowa Freedom of Information Council will present its annual Harrison “Skip” Weber Friend of the First Amendment award at the banquet. IowaWatch will present its Stephen Berry and Randy Brubaker Free Press Champion awards to a working journalist or journalism educator and to an Iowan who is not involved with journalism but who promotes the role of an unrestricted news media and open government.

Tickets are $60 per person.

Please register here by Thursday, Sept. 19.



Jenna Johnson is a national political correspondent for The Washington Post who
writes about the 2020 presidential election with a heavy focus on voters and
political movements. Over the past few months, she has written about the campaign of
former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke, independent voters in the Detroit suburbs,
fully employed but homeless voters in the Orlando area and voters in Eastern Iowa
who voted for Barack Obama, then Donald Trump and are now evaluating their options
for 2020. Johnson has also covered the White House and Trump’s 2016 presidential
campaign, interviewing thousands of Trump supporters across the country and
documenting the unexpected movement that swept him into office.

Johnson started at the Post in 2007 as a summer intern and has written about crime, county government and local elections, higher education and the Maryland statehouse. Jenna grew up in Omaha and graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her parents own the Kalona News in Eastern Iowa.

(Story updated Aug. 20, 2019)


The Downtown Marriott has a special group room rate through 5 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 5, for attendees staying overnight Sept. 26 after the banquet. Call 1-800-228-9290 or 515-245-5500 and ask for the Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism special rate.

The Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism is an independent, 501(c)(3) non-profit and non-partisan journalistic program dedicated to producing high quality investigative journalism while training journalism students on this work at a high, ethical level. IowaWatch provides mentorship to college students in Iowa who want to be journalists and helps in getting their work published by newspapers and news web sites, and exposed through broadcast outlets. also publishes their work.

Find out more at and about the Iowa Freedom of Information Council at


  • Presenting Sponsors — Iowa Freedom of Information Council and Iowa Newspaper Foundation.
  • Event Sponsors —  The Iowa Broadcasters Association, Faegre Baker Daniels law firm of Des Moines, the Des Moines Register, Iowa State University Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication, University of Iowa School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
  • Additional Support — the Associated Press.

Type of work:

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