The Iowa Field Report broke some of the biggest Iowa political stories of the year. The first to report on U.S. Senate candidate Mike Franken’s assault report, the first to write on state house candidate Sonya Heitshusen’s arrest, and the only outlet to provide updates on the case throughout, not to mention countless insights of GOP campaigns and issues throughout the election cycle.
Often, GOP candidates and insiders sought me out, knowing they would get a fair shake on the Iowa Field Report and there would be no media spin or angle on their story.
This year, I applied to be an Iowa Capitol Press Association member. This is the collective group of Iowa reporters who cover state government and “exists to promote and support robust coverage of Iowa state government for the benefit of the public….” At the time, I was accepted as a member of the ICPA and was just one of two Republican-leaning outlets granted membership.
My goals of becoming a member of ICPA were simple – to be a voice for those wanting a more conservative/Republican view on the state’s news stories, to be an asset to the members of the Iowa press corps, and to encourage stronger relationships between members of the media and Republicans in the state.
Immediately after being admitted to the ICPA in January, some members began to discuss bylaw changes that would remove me and prevent members like me from ever joining again.
So much for robust coverage that benefits the public.
They argue that I was paid for work in politics.
In the end, I was vocal and supportive of changes to the bylaws that prevented overtly political members from joining ICPA, but also highlighted that change needed to apply fairly and include removing any members who have financially supported candidates, lawmakers, or causes they wish to cover. If it’s a conflict to be paid by organizations, it’s certainly a conflict to give them money as well.
My suggested changes to the bylaws would have only affected one other member: Laura Belin. At last check, Belin, a wealthy liberal activist who self-funds the ultra-liberal, Bleeding Heartland blog, has donated over $40,000 to Iowa liberals and committees. The same people she is reporting about on her site.
I’m sure you’re not shocked to find that, ultimately, the ICPA voted to change the bylaws to kick me out of their club but to ensure that Laura Belin is allowed to stay in.
While the overall goals of the ICPA are admirable and most of its members are excellent journalists, their recent decision is the wrong one and is entirely tone-deaf. Carving out a lane for a liberal zealot while expelling the most respected conservative news outlet feeds into the distrust and frustrations many Iowans have with today’s media coverage.
The Iowa Field Report is successful because Iowans know they can get real stories that frequently aren’t even covered by mainstream media. They can do it without any liberal spin.
Don’t worry – IRF lives on. We’ll be here with you, not in the ivory tower, covering stories that matter most to Iowans and giving Republican candidates and causes a fair shake.
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