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INA ushers in new era

INA ushers in new era

Ghost written for Dave Stanley, 2015 Iowa Newspaper Association President and Publisher, New Hampton Tribune, on his presidential year. Published in the INA weekly newsletter on January 13, 2016 and distributed at the 2016 INA Annual Convention and Trade Show.

INA prepared to usher in new era

The Iowa Newspaper Association is ushering in a new era in 2016 and 2015 set the stage for a smooth transition. On April 1, 2016, Susan Patterson Plank will assume the helm of the Iowa Newspaper Association as its new Executive Director. Current Executive Director Chris Mudge will retire from the INA May 31, having completed a 34-year career with the association as an advertising sales representative, marketing director, assistant director and executive director.

In early 2015, the INA board appointed a search committee to conduct a national search for the next executive director of the INA. More than 20 resumes were received and three candidates were interviewed for the position. The search committee unanimously recommended to the INA Board, and the board unanimously approved, hiring Susan Patterson Plank to lead the INA into the future.

Patterson Plank has more than 20 years of media experience at newspapers in Iowa, Indiana and Minnesota. She currently serves as sales and marketing director for Customized Newspaper Advertising, the sales arm of the Iowa and Wisconsin newspaper associations. Previously, Patterson Plank held several roles for Gannett Company Inc. including vice president, online; vice president, advertising and vice president, market development. Patterson Plank earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Northern Iowa and anticipates completing her Masters of Public Administration from Drake University in 2016.

Search Committee members included: Steve Delaney, Burlington Hawk Eye (chair); Amy Duncan, Indianola Record-Herald and Tribune; Mike Ralston, Iowa Association of Business and Industry; Maureen Miller, Knoxville Journal-Express; Ryan Harvey, Hampton Chronicle; Dave Stanley, New Hampton Tribune; Jeff Wagner, Sheldon N’West Iowa Review and Dave Braton, Waterloo/Cedar Falls Courier.

Also in 2015, the INA unveiled its new website. It is an excellent resource for members seeking information about training opportunities, advertising research information, answers to public notice and open meetings, open records questions and so much more. If you’ve not explored the site, please do. You’ll find a wealth of information.

In July, the INA launched Gone Cold: Exploring Iowa’s unsolved murders. More than 100 Iowa newspapers are publishing this year-long editorial series revisiting some of the most brutal and mystifying homicides in Iowa’s history. The series started as an idea from an Iowa publisher. By sharing these stories with a broader audience, it is our hope that justice will come for some of these victims through the power of print.

A couple of developments as a result of the series include a French journalist doing a feature story on Jody Ewing, creator of www.IowaColdCases.org and a partner in this project. The story recognized Ewing as one of five women from around the globe who choose unconventional career paths and are making a difference in many lives. And, a former Iowa county attorney is pursuing one of the cases featured as part of the Gone Cold series.

The 2015 legislative session wrapped up in mid-June. A bill to make gun permits confidential bit the dust in the waning hours of the session. However, among the myriad bills passed reducing government transparency was one creating a confidential record if a complaint against a juvenile is filed but a petition is not filed on the complaint. Another expands confidentiality of court records, allowing for the expungement of not-guilty verdicts and dismissed criminal charges.

And efforts by the INA and the Iowa Public Information Board to advance legislation providing additional access to personnel records, bringing advisory committees under the open meetings law and better defining the 24-hour posting of notice of meetings failed to go anywhere amid the objections of local government entities.

Last fall, for the second time, the INA teamed up with the Des Moines Register to host a freedom of information forum. The forum focused on access to police body camera footage, a topic being debated in legislatures all across the country. The forum was part of a day of events focusing on government transparency.

The debate over access to police body camera footage took center stage in Iowa when the Hawk Eye in Burlington filed a formal complaint with the Iowa Public Information Board seeking video footage of the death of a Burlington mother in January, 2015 at the hands of a police officer. Efforts by the newspaper and the family of the victim to gain access to the complete footage of the accidental shooting have been blocked. Twice the public information board rejected its staff ’s recommendation to dismiss the case. The case will now be presented to an administrative law judge for resolution.

Soon, the INA’s Ed Thomas Mr. Football award will be featured in the Iowa Hall of Pride museum in Des Moines. The award was created by the INA All State Committee in 2011 following the tragic death of the beloved Aplington/Parkersburg football coach at the hands of one of his former students.

We look forward to 2016 and the INA’s continued efforts to assist Iowa newspapers in a multitude of ways.