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.

Institute for Nonprofit News names IowaWatch’s Suzanne Behnke to national Emerging Leaders Council

Suzanne Behnke, executive director of the Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism and its news outlet, IowaWatch, has been named to the Institute for Nonprofit News Emerging Leaders Council. INN announced Thursday, May 21, that Behnke is among 11 leaders selected for the third Emerging Leaders Council, which identifies and supports leaders who will advance the nonprofit news sector throughout the next decade. 

Suzanne Behnke, IowaWatch executive director-editor

“This is a terrific opportunity to network, to support nonprofit news and to find ways to strengthen IowaWatch,” Behnke said. “I am excited to join a terrific group of journalists.”

Behnke joined the Center in 2019 after spending two years at the Des Moines Business Record, where she was an editor and contributor.  She also is a journalism and communications instructor at Simpson College in Indianola. Behnke, a native Iowan, has a long and rich news reporting and editing history in the state. She was a reporter, copy editor and page designer at The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier from 1997 to 2000 before joining The Des Moines Register staff.

Meet IowaWatch’s newest staff writer, Drake student Marie Nalan

IowaWatch is delighted to introduce you to our latest staff member, Marie Nalan of Drake University. Here she shares a little about herself. You’ll see her byline soon. My name is Marie Nalan, a soon-to-be professional reporter from Grand Rapids, Minn. While I grew up in Minnesota close to the Canadian border, I have family roots in both Mason City and Clinton, Iowa.

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.

Suzanne Behnke Picked To Be The Next IowaWatch Executive Director

The Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism, or IowaWatch, has hired Suzanne Behnke to be its new executive director. Behnke, who starts in August, succeeds Lyle Muller, who will retire in September after leading IowaWatch since 2012. “Journalism and its future are my professional passions, and IowaWatch will allow me to work in both areas,” Behnke said. “There’s tremendous potential for IowaWatch to grow in depth and breadth so it can serve readers for years to come.”

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Behnke comes to IowaWatch from the Des Moines Business Record, where she has been an editor and contributor since May 2017. She also is a journalism and communications instructor at Simpson College in Indianola.

IowaWatch Honored For Exchanging Ideas With International Journalists

The Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism was one of three 2018 Citizen Diplomat Award recipients honored the night of April 16 by the Council for International Visitors to Iowa Cities, or CIVIC. The other award recipients were Diamond V of Cedar Rapids, for business and industry, and Johnson County Supervisor Lisa Green-Douglass as an individual. They received the awards at CIVIC’s Fourth Annual Celebration of Citizen Diplomacy Dinner in Iowa City. The center, which runs IowaWatch.org, was cited for its work as a nonprofit organization because of the several years it has met with international journalists CIVIC brings to Iowa on U.S. visits that bring them to Iowa. The non-profit CIVIC is a community-based, member-driven organization established to create, support and sustain citizen diplomacy efforts in the Iowa City-Cedar Rapids area of Eastern Iowa.