Iowa City, IA

League Lecture continues with ‘Transparency Matters’ on Jan. 25

Linda Schreiber

Public officials at all levels of government are required to conduct the public's business in the open with very few exceptions. Not only is transparency in government important, but it is also equally important for the media and journalists covering the news.

Transparency in public governance and the media and why it matters will be discussed by Randy Evans, Executive Director of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council, and Laura Belin, Editor of the Bleeding Heartland blog on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023, from 6:30 to 8 p.m., at the Iowa City Public Library in Meeting Room A.

Increasingly, elected officials don’t think of themselves as public servants, and that mindset extends to others who control access to public records. People paid with taxpayer dollars, elected or hired to positions of public service, have a responsibility to provide the public access to information, but politicization has changed the way elected officials think. Likewise, in an industry deluged with acquisitions, mergers, rapid technological advances, and social media platforms that flout journalistic norms, incisive news coverage has declined and objectivity often bows to the pressures of cultural politics or corporate priorities.

The presentation is hosted by the education committee of the League of Women Voters of Johnson County (LWVJC). The Gazette and the Iowa City Public Library are League partners for the education series. The presentation will be offered in person and streamed live on the library's channel. Library staff will also record it for rebroadcast on the ICPL YouTube channel and the LWVJC website and Facebook page.

Randy Evans of Des Moines is the executive director of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council, a 45-year-old nonprofit, nonpartisan education and advocacy organization that works for better open government and government accountability.

Evans took over the role with the FOI Council in October 2015 after a 40-year career with The Des Moines Register. He joined the Register in 1974, first as a news reporter and then in various editing roles, including state editor, metro editor, news editor and assistant managing editor. He was editor of the Register’s opinion pages during his final four years with the newspaper.

Evans began his newspaper career at the age of 16 working for his hometown newspaper, the Bloomfield Democrat. After graduating from the University of Iowa, he spent two years as the editor of the Albia Union-Republican and Monroe County News, weekly newspapers in Albia. He retired from the Register in December 2014 and began writing a weekly column on government and politics for the Bloomfield Democrat. The column now also appears regularly in eight to 10 other newspapers and news websites.

Laura Belin found her love of politics around the family dinner table. She has followed Iowa elections closely since the 1980 caucuses. Belin began writing as an analyst for the Prague-based Open Media Research Institute and later for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, covering Russian campaigns and elections, parliamentary politics, and media issues full-time from 1995 to 1998 and on a freelance basis for RFE/RL from 1999 to 2005 – a period spanning Boris Yeltsin's presidency and Vladimir Putin’s early years.

As Bleeding Heartland's lead author, Belin writes about Iowa politics. Des Moines Cityview's "Civic Skinny" called Belin "probably the hardest-working — and perhaps the best — political reporter in the state" and "one of the best investigative reporters in the state." The Fix at the Washington Post named Belin one of Iowa's outstanding political reporters in 2020 and named Bleeding Heartland among the "best state-based political blogs.” Politico put Belin on its list of "early state must-follows." Charles Pierce of Esquire has called Bleeding Heartland an "essential Iowa political blog." In 2021, Belin began working part-time as the statehouse correspondent for KHOI Community Radio in Ames (89.1 FM), where she regularly appears on the program Capitol Week.

The League of Women Voters of Johnson County is a nonpartisan political organization founded in 1920 and dedicated to an informed electorate through advocacy and community events. The League is a member of the National League of Women Voters, consisting of 50 state Leagues and 803 local chapters, and a member of the League of Women Voters of Iowa. In 2020 and 2021, local League members commemorated the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment and the founding of the League.
Photo byLWVJC graphic

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A native Iowan who previously worked as an administrator, journalist and editor. She is the author of “Before 52340: A Place in Time.” Now retired, Linda spends her time writing, gardening and volunteering to assist nonprofit organizations.

Johnson County, IA

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