INF Writing Workshop


This year's workship, held virtually, continues the interactive format designed to provide participants with multiple contacts with a professional coach. The program will build your interviewing, writing and story development skills! We continue the workshop tradition of one-on-one conferences with a writing coach and it is your chance to build relationships with experienced professionals and journalists facing similar challenges!

Registration fee: $75

Deadline: Thursday, September 29

Meet the presenters


Randy Evans took the role as executive director of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council in October 2015 after a 40-year career with The Des Moines Register. He joined the Register in 1974 as a news reporter after working for two years as the editor of the Albia Union-Republican and Monroe County News. During his time with the Register, Evans served in a variety of editing roles, including state editor, city editor, news editor and assistant managing editor, supervising at one time or another every department in the newsroom except sports. He spent his final four years as the editor of the Register’s opinion pages.

Randy Evans


Kurt Helland is the copy editor for Business Publications Corp. in Des Moines, which produces the Business Record, dsm magazine and several other niche and custom publications. He was an editor at The Des Moines Register for almost 30 years, with most of that time spent on the copy desk. He was the keeper of the Register’s own stylebook and kept the newsroom informed of Register and AP style changes.

Kurt Helland


Prior to his retirement in 2015, Rox Laird had been an editorial writer at the Des Moines Register for 30+ years. He specialized in writing about law and courts, the First Amendment, government, architecture and historic preservation. Laird began his career at the Des Moines Tribune in 1972, and worked a range of beats, although most focused on local government. After the Tribune closed, he moved to the Register and joined the editorial page staff. Since then, he wrote editorials and served several tours of duty as editor of the letters to the editor. Laird is a native of Kearney, Neb., and earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism at Iowa State University.

Rox Laird


Jared Strong is a crime and courts reporter for the Times Herald in Carroll and a trustee of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council. He is a 2005 Iowa State University graduate who started his career at the Des Moines Register and has been working in Carroll since 2010. Strong’s investigative work has earned him state and national awards. He was sued for libel last year by a former police officer but prevailed. He lives on an acreage down by the river with his wife and three young children.

Jared Strong

kick-off Program

8:45 a.m. Welcome and introductions

(KISS, as in Keep it Simple Stupid)
Presented by Randy Evans
Too many writers make their writing too complicated. Their sentences are too complicated. Their stories, rather than being straight forward, have too many twists and turns.

Presented by Rox Laird and Jared Strong
The Electronic Document Management System is one of the nation’s first court systems to provide complete online access to court records at the district level. More than 6.5 million documents are filed online through EDMS and is a valuable tool to journalists.

Presented by Kurt Helland
The main focus will be on the latest changes to the AP Stylebook. The session will stress how handy it is to use the online AP Stylebook rather than the hard-copy version. Besides always being up to date, there are many helpful tools in the online version.

11:45 a.m. Meet with coaches to discuss next steps

Follow-up dates

October 6 – This kick-off session includes breakouts and time for the coaches to get to know their students.

By Friday, October 14 – Students send 2-3 writing samples to their coach and coaches schedule sessions with their students for the following week.

Week of October 17 - Coaches hold sessions with their students (either remotely via Skype, google hangouts, etc. or in person).

By Friday, October 28 - Students send second batch of 2-3 writing samples to their coach and coaches schedule sessions with their students for the following week.

Week of October 31 - Coaches hold sessions with their students (either remotely via Skype, google hangouts, etc. or in person).

Program is completed by November 7. Participants to be awarded certificate of completion and recognized in the INA Bulletin.