The Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism-IowaWatch has won a $25,000 John S. and James L. Knight Foundation grant, awarded through the Investigative News Network, that will help it build a statewide audience engagement program. This will involve developing a weekly, statewide news and public affairs radio program and series of community forums that reach a broader audience for the stories IowaWatch reports.
Jeff Stein, executive director of the Iowa Broadcast News Association and a noted Iowa broadcast historian, will host and produce the program on a network of stations across the state. Plans call for launching the 30-minute program at the beginning of July. In addition, the grant will allow IowaWatch to host public forums in various parts of the state to explore issues that have impact on Iowans. The first such forum, dealing with elder care issues, is scheduled for April 29 in Des Moines.
“This grant allows us to take stories from our four-year-old non-profit news effort to Iowans in new ways,” IowaWatch Executive Director-Editor Lyle Muller said.
“Beyond that, we hope we can elevate the level of discussion and understanding of important issues by going into communities for some real dialogue. We think having a better understanding of those with authority to make decisions that affect Iowans can make the state a better place to live and do business.”
IowaWatch is one of eight news organizations nationally that the Investigative News Network selected for the grants, called INNovation grants and are designed to provide seed money that supports experiments that might lead to self-sustainability among non-profit news organizations. IowaWatch looks for ways to be monetarily self-sustainable while creating high quality investigative and public affairs journalism that engages Iowans in matters that affect them. This project will examine if IowaWatch can generate sustaining income through underwriting or advertising income from the radio show, sponsors from public forums, and donations related to the exposure from the radio program.
Knight Local Media Initiative grants exist to give local, non-profit online news organizations additional operating support and strategic investment toward sustainability and journalistic excellence. The Investigative News Network is a consortium of more than 90 non-profit and community news organizations, including IowaWatch.
IowaWatch is an independent, 501(c)(3) non-profit and non-partisan journalistic program dedicated to producing high quality investigative and community affairs journalism in Iowa while training journalism students on this work at a high, ethical level.