IowaWatch honored an outstanding investigative journalist and a former public health spokesperson, both judged to be advocates for open and transparent government, during the Virtual Storytelling Event on Friday, Nov. 12.

The awards stopped in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“IowaWatch is delighted to recognize the work of journalists and Iowans who care about truth and providing citizens, the public, with information that it is their right to access,” said Suzanne Behnke, IowaWatch’s editorial director.

IowaWatch photo

Clark Kauffman Credit: IowaWatch photo

Clark Kauffman was given the Stephen Berry Free Press Champion Award for a working journalist, journalism group or journalism educator in Iowa. Polly Carver-Kimm was given the Randy Brubaker Free Press Champion Award for an Iowan who has done significant open records work over several years in a role other than journalism.

Kauffman is the deputy editor of the Iowa Capital Dispatch. He has also worked as an investigative reporter and editorial writer for the Des Moines Register and Quad-City Times. His nomination for the Berry award highlighted his relentless pursuit of information from government leaders under Iowa’s open records laws. Kauffman was a previous recipient of this award in 2013. He was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize in 2004.

Polly Carver-Kimm

Carver-Kimm is the former spokesperson for the Iowa Department of Public Health. She was nominated for her efforts to fulfill reporters’ requests for facts and open records. Carver-Kimm is currently the media relations coordinator at EveryStep, a health-based nonprofit.

“It really is great to return to these awards after 2020 when we were in the depths of no in-person events and social distancing,” said Behnke. The awards previously were given at an annual banquet. IowaWatch has held one in-person event since September 2019. “We are so thankful for the help of the University of Iowa Event Management Workshop students who helped provide a virtual event at which we could recognize the honorees.”

The Stephen Berry Free Press Champion Award is presented to a working journalist or group of journalists or a journalism educator in the state of Iowa. It is named for IowaWatch’s co-founder, a former UI journalism professor and Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist.

The Randy Brubaker Free Press Champion award is given to an Iowan who advocates for open and transparent government to strengthen democracy. It is named for the Register’s managing editor who died in 2014.

The Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan, investigative news service that does investigative and community affairs journalism in collaboration with other media and trains college student journalists to do this kind of reporting at a high level. The center was incorporated as a non-profit in February 2010.


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