Cartoon: The fine print

Robert Niederklopfer, a Democratic activist in Des Moines, was inspired to draw this commentary after President Donald Trump condemned the massacre of reporters and editors at the The Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland, saying, “journalists, like all Americans, should be free from the fear of being violently attacked while doing their jobs.” Trump has repeatedly called the media “the enemy of the people” and has sometimes incited supporters at his rallies to bash journalists or news organizations. -promoted by desmoinesdem

Continue Reading...

3 hopes for Des Moines Register chief politics reporter Brianne Pfannenstiel

The Des Moines Register made it official this week: Brianne Pfannenstiel will move up to the chief politics reporter job after three years covering the statehouse. She is best-known for writing about alleged sexual misconduct by State Senator Nate Boulton; that article quickly ended his campaign for governor. It was a tricky story to report, and Pfannenstiel handled the material well. Another huge scoop was her June 2017 investigative report on delayed state tax refunds.

Pfannenstiel impressed me during her first year at the Register, when she had the news sense to write multiple pieces about the most under-covered major Iowa politics story of 2015. Some experienced statehouse reporters failed to recognize the significance of an unprecedented move to enact a new sales tax break without legislative approval. That policy change turned out to be far more costly than officials had projected, contributing to state revenue shortfalls in subsequent years.

I’m looking forward to watching Pfannenstiel apply her detail-oriented approach to her new beat. As she turns her attention to campaigns and elections, I hope she will:

Continue Reading...

Don’t hide government officials from the public

Iowa Freedom of Information Council executive director Randy Evans reflects on the flawed draft advisory opinion the Iowa Public Information Board’s staff proposed in response to my inquiry. -promoted by desmoinesdem

I sometimes think government officials overlook the important role the public plays in our system of government.

That was my takeaway last week from the monthly meeting of the Iowa Public Information Board.

Continue Reading...

When someone tried to plant a false story in the Des Moines Register

A year ago today, Des Moines Register public affairs reporter William Petroski reached out to the Iowa Attorney General’s office, seeking to confirm a tip from a “really good source.”

The story never made it into the paper, because it didn’t check out. Odds are the misinformation came from someone close to then Governor Terry Branstad and Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds.

Continue Reading...

Big changes, worrying signs at Des Moines Register

High-profile departures from the Des Moines Register newsroom have happened too often over the last decade. A series of layoffs and buyouts left readers less informed about important topics. For instance, ever since the Register let its last Washington-based correspondent go, readers rarely hear about what our state’s members of Congress are doing, unless the story originated from a press release or comments during a conference call with journalists.

The recent turnover at Iowa’s most important agenda-setting news organization is worrying for heavy consumers of political coverage.

Continue Reading...
View More...