Dear Friends of IowaWatch,
A recent study by BuzzFeed News confirmed a disturbing feeling that grew increasingly intense as the presidential campaign wore on. It was a sense that falsity was overwhelming facts in the information base voters would use to elect the next president. The study revealed hard data showing that readers lapped up fake news and outright lies from hyper-partisan websites or profit-mad con artists more often than real news from mainstream outlets.
This story, I said to myself, shows precisely why we should thank our lucky stars for organizations like IowaWatch.org. We don’t give two hoots in hell about partisan ideology. We don’t seek profit or sell ads. We don’t take sides, and we don’t take money from political groups.
We owe nothing to anyone except to you, our readers and supporters. That sets us free to simply seek and report the truth, no matter which side it helps or hurts. Seems quaint, doesn’t it? But in a world besieged by purveyors of sensational falsity and ideologues who only report facts fitting their ideology, quaint becomes fresh.
IowaWatch can afford to be fresh, because we are the independent investigative news site of a 501(c)(3) charity, The Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism. We have been doing investigative and explanatory journalism for almost seven years, thanks to individual donations from you and from non-partisan foundations and news partners.
But folks, to continue this pursuit of truth, especially at this critical juncture, we need your tax-deductible donation. Your donation is not just for the present. Half of our mission is devoted to training student journalists and imbuing them with the ideal that democracy can work only if citizens have access to real news derived from a painstaking, methodical and persistent search for truth.
We launched this mission on Feb. 5, 2010, at the University of Iowa and relied entirely on UI journalism students under the direct reporting and editing supervision of accomplished veterans. Now, thanks to the visionary leadership of Executive Director-Editor Lyle Muller, we train students all over Iowa in private and public universities. In the past year, we started reaching down into the high schools, where we are finding bright and energetic students eager to commit to our search for the truth.
Friends, good journalism is alive and well at IowaWatch, and a new generation is preparing to take up the call. But like any good thing, it needs nourishment. With your help, we can provide that.
Support IowaWatch in the Knight News Match program. The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation will match each $1 you donate through Jan. 19, up to $1,000.
Stephen J. Berry,
Associate Professor Emeritus, University of Iowa, and IowaWatch co-founder