Deadline Sept. 20 for awards dinner

The sixth annual “Celebrating a Free Press and Open Government” awards dinner will be on Thursday, Sept. 27, at the Downtown Marriott Hotel in Des Moines. The evening begins with a reception at 5:30 p.m. Dinner will follow at 6:30 p.m.

Tickets are $55 each and must be purchased no later than Thursday, Sept. 20. You can buy tickets online at

The event honors Iowans for their support of the First Amendment. Proceeds from the evening goes to the Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism, which is better known as Iowa Watch. The nonprofit organization works in collaboration with Iowa media on investigative and explanatory reporting projects by college journalists.

Among the awards that will be presented Thursday are the Iowa FOI Council’s Harrison “Skip” Weber Friend of the First Amendment award, which is named for the longtime Iowa Statehouse reporter for the Iowa Daily Press Association.

Iowa Watch will present its Steve Berry and Randy Brubaker Free Press Champion awards, which are named for Berry, the co-founder of Iowa Watch, and for Brubaker, a former managing editor of The Des Moines Register.

Berry will be the keynote speaker at the awards banquet. He retired in 2015 after teaching for a dozen years at the University of Iowa School of Journalism. He moved into academia after working for 33 years as a newspaper reporter, much of that time for the Orlando Sentinel and Los Angeles Times.

Berry and a colleague at the Sentinel won the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for investigative journalism for a series of articles that exposed the unjust seizure of millions of dollars from motorists in Florida, mostly minorities, by sheriff’s deputies.