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Release: May 31, 2000

UI professors win $5,800 grant for journalist oral history project

IOWA CITY -- Two University of Iowa journalism professors have won a $5,800 grant from the State Historical Society to continue chronicling the lives and contributions of Iowa's senior journalists. Stephen G. Bloom and Hanno Hardt won the grant for their Iowa Journalists Oral History Project, which is the first systematic effort to record the professional histories of Iowa reporters, editors, photographers and columnists.

The State Historical Society plans 48 separate award ceremonies on June 1, one for each of this year's grant winners in the Historical Resource Development Program (HRDP), which is a division of the state's Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) program. The recognition ceremony for the Iowa Journalists Oral History Project will be at 11 a.m. in the Senate Chambers of the Old Capitol on the UI campus. State Sen. Bob Dvorsky (D-Coralville) will make the presentation.

Bloom said the goal of the Iowa Journalists Oral History Project is to document the history of journalism in Iowa by interviewing scores of the state's influential newsmen and newswomen and collecting the videotapes and transcripts in a single historical repository. Bloom and Hardt started the project in 1997.

Gordon Hendrickson, the state archivist, said the Iowa Journalists Oral History Project will preserve a vital piece of Iowa's history. "As generations pass, we lose so much," he said. "Journalists write for their papers, but not about themselves. We don't know much about their lives and experiences."

Bloom, Hardt, and Program Coordinator Brian L. Thomas, along with some of their students, have interviewed a number of Iowa journalists to date including:

-- Drake Mabrey, who as editor of the Des Moines Tribune was instrumental in the decision to shut down the paper, a decision he now says he regrets;

-- George "Lefty" Mills, who covered the Iowa State House for the Des Moines Register from 1931-1972 and covered politics for WHO-TV from 1976-1983;

-- Carolyn Gage, publisher of the Villisca Review and the Stanton Viking;

-- Gene Raffensperger, who was the first bureau chief for the Register in Davenport in the early 1960s;

-- Jim Flansburg, who worked at the Register from 1957-1997 and in 1971 started "The Old Reporter," a thrice-weekly column he wrote for 25 years;

-- Ed Sidey, the retired owner and publisher of the Adair County Free Press;

-- Dwight and Pat Jenson, a husband and wife team from Iowa City who worked together at the Register in the 1950s;

-- Francis Craig who started as a Society Page writer for the Register and was a part of the change in the women's page toward human interest and feature stories.

For more information about the Iowa Journalists Oral History Project, contact Bloom at (319) 335-3368. For more information about the REAP/HRDP grants or for a list of grant winners statewide, contact Hendrickson at (515) 281-8875.