Woodward Writing Workshop


We are pleased to announce the annual writing workshop will now be named the Woodward Writing Workshop thanks to a $20,000 investment from Tom and Bob Woodward and the Woodward Communications Foundation.

"Story development, interviewing, and writing are key journalism skills that are at the core of every Iowa community newspaper. As a company and a family, we are proud to help the development of these skills across the state and proud to sponsor the Woodward Writing Workshop through INF." - Bob Woodward

 "Supporting the Workshop aligns very well with our company's Purpose, which is to 'Provide quality local content and services that support and grow strong communities.' " - Tom Woodward

Thank you to the Woodward’s for their commitment to building strong Iowa journalists.


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 21

Use discount code 23WW to be billed by the INA.

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


Vanessa Miller has been covering higher education for The Gazette in Cedar Rapids for the past decade, having first arrived at The Gazette in 2011 as an investigative reporter. Prior to The Gazette, she worked as a criminal justice reporter for The Daily Camera in Boulder, Colo., covering high-profile fires and trials – including the JonBenet Ramsey killing and subsequent arrests and developments. Before returning to her native Colorado to work for The Camera, Miller covered city government for The Press-Citizen in Iowa City. More recently, she’s taken on health care reporting and the shifting medical landscape across Eastern Iowa. Miller also believes in the power of the press to ignite and inspire readers and communities through compelling reporting and writing on groundbreaking research and inspiring efforts to overcome.

Vanessa Miller


Kurt Helland recently retired after seven years as 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. At both the Register and BPC, he was the keeper of the in-house stylebook and kept the newsroom informed of company and AP style rules and recurring style issues.

Kurt Helland

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 Vanessa Miller
A discussion on the growing importance of records in today’s media landscape, cluttered by pseudo journalism and bloggers with easy access to wide audiences. This session will evaluate what records are available via open records laws, which ones aren’t, and how to obtain both types in search of substantive journalism capable of performing the key journalistic role of shedding light and holding community, state, and national officials and leaders accountable. We’ll discuss what to do with records once you have them, how to navigate complex data, and ways to pull out stories. Using high-profile examples of open records challenges, failures, and fights, we’ll evaluate the growing need for investigative journalism and the role records play.

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

September 28 – This kick-off session is held online and includes breakouts and time for the coaches to get to know their students.

By Friday, October 13 – Students send 2-3 writing samples to their coach and coaches schedule sessions with their students for the following week.

Week of October 16 - Coaches hold sessions with their students (either remotely via Skype, google hangouts, etc.)

By Friday, October 27 - 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 30 - Coaches hold sessions with their students (either remotely via Skype, google hangouts, etc.)

Program is completed by November 6. Participants to be awarded certificate of completion and recognized in the INA Bulletin.