# Media



The 22 most-viewed Bleeding Heartland posts of 2022

Governor Kim Reynolds, the state legislature, and Iowa Supreme Court rulings inspired the majority of Bleeding Heartland’s most-read posts from this year.

This list draws from Google Analytics data about total views for 570 posts published from January 1 through December 29. I wrote 212 of those articles and commentaries; other authors wrote 358. I left out the site’s front page and the “about” page, where many people landed following online searches.

In general, Bleeding Heartland’s traffic was higher this year than in 2021, though not quite as high as during the pandemic-fueled surge of 2020. So about three dozen posts that would have ranked among last year’s most-viewed didn’t make the cut for this post. Some honorable mentions from that group:

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Musings from a first-in-the-nation Iowa caucus critic

Dan Piller was a business reporter for more than four decades, working for the Des Moines Register and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. He covered the oil and gas industry while in Texas and was the Register’s agriculture reporter before his retirement in 2013. He lives in Ankeny.

The pending end of Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses will no doubt set off long nights of reminiscences covering a half-century among the state’s political/media intelligentsia. But I will step forward with a claim that is not to be challenged.

I was the first-in-the-nation critic of the Iowa caucuses. It happened entirely by accident.

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Iowa governor still ducking public questions

Three weeks after her re-election victory, Governor Kim Reynolds continues to avoid unscripted interactions with journalists. She has not held a news conference for 20 weeks, and her public appearances since the November election have not even built in “gaggles” where reporters could informally ask a few questions.

Reynolds cut off press conferences about four months before the 2018 midterm election as well, but during that year’s campaign, she participated in three televised debates and pledged to hold weekly news conferences if elected. Though she didn’t keep that promise, she provided several opportunities for reporters to ask about her plans soon after winning the 2018 race.

This year, Reynolds agreed to only one debate with her Democratic challenger and made no commitment regarding future news conferences. The governor’s spokesperson Alex Murphy has not replied to Bleeding Heartland’s questions about plans for media availabilities.

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The Register and blue ghosts from 1974

Dan Piller was a business reporter for more than four decades, working for the Des Moines Register and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. He covered the oil and gas industry while in Texas and was the Register’s agriculture reporter before his retirement in 2013. He lives in Ankeny.

The windowless Office Lounge bar on Grand Avenue nestled across a narrow alleyway from the Register and Tribune Building in downtown Des Moines was a hopping place in the early morning hours of Wednesday, November 6, 1974.

Longtime Office Lounge owner Dorothy Gabriel continued her election-night tradition of keeping the Register’s semi-official bar open after hours (to the apparent indifference of the Des Moines police) so that the newspaper’s staff could blow off the heat and tension of election night.

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Gannett prints fake newspapers at Des Moines Register plant

Fake newspapers designed to drive Illinois voters away from Democratic candidates are being printed at the Des Moines Register’s plant, Gannett staff confirmed to Bleeding Heartland.

At least eleven printed publications, which are part of the conservative network Local Government Information Services (LGIS), have been distributed to Illinois residents since August. Sometimes known as “pink slime” journalism, such publications combine political advocacy with stories resembling neutral coverage of local news or sports. The material has the look and feel of a newspaper, but the content is more like political advertising.

Jem Bartholomew of the Columbia Journalism Review was first to report in early October that Gannett had taken over printing of the LGIS products. The previous publisher, which also owns the suburban Chicago newspaper Daily Herald, canceled its commercial printing contract with LGIS in late September, saying “Many critics cannot or refuse to differentiate between a commercial printing operation” and the Herald’s “editorial mission to be unbiased and fair.”

The Des Moines Register’s executive editor, Carol Hunter, had no comment beyond confirming in a November 4 email that “these are commercial print clients.” She provided a statement from Gannett’s corporate communications staff: “We do not discuss our commercial print clients and have no further comment.”

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Self-governance: It could be worse. It should be better

Herb Strentz was dean of the Drake School of Journalism from 1975 to 1988 and professor there until retirement in 2004. He was executive secretary of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council from its founding in 1976 to 2000.

“It could be worse.”

At the start of 2022, friends may have uttered those four words to console or comfort us.

As the midterm elections approach, those four words may be prophetic.

Every election in a democracy —from township to presidency — is threatened by voters who are ill-informed, misinformed, and/or uninformed.

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