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Herb Strentz

Herb Strentz is professor emeritus of journalism at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. He was a founder of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council and served as its executive secretary from 1975 to 2000. In 2004 he was named to the "Heroes of the 50 States, The Open Government Hall of Fame" of the National Freedom of Information Coalition and the Society of Professional Journalists. 

He also is the only person to be named to the Iowa Broadcasters Hall of Fame and to receive the Distinguished Service Award from the Iowa Newspaper Association, primarily for his work in First Amendment and FOI concerns. His PhD is from Northwestern University and he taught at Bakersfield College, the University Kentucky, and the University of North Dakota before going to Drake where he served as dean of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication from 1975 to 1988. 

Strentz also worked as a reporter for The Fresno Bee and the Associated Press in Albany, NY, and worked part time and during the summers for The Minneapollis Tribune and the Des Moines Register and Tribune Company. He is the author of "News Reporters and News Sources," which was published by the United States information Agency in Spanish, Chinese and Arabic.

He now blogs at The Truth Is!



Do we really want Iowa to be first in 2016?
COMMENTARY | June 28, 2012
It’s not just the atrocious mistakes and the rule of the religious right that should make the GOP and the press rethink Iowa’s role in presidential campaigns, it’s also the events that go as planned, such as the quadrennial phony-baloney Ames Straw Poll.

The Iowa GOP platform, more outrageous than ever
COMMENTARY | May 31, 2012
Up for adoption soon, the platform, with 400 planks, is so extreme that an op ed in the Des Moines Register carried the headline, “A letter to the good people of Iowa: Are you crazy?” Aside from that column, however, a check showed no news coverage by the three largest newspapers in the state.

Strentz & Cranberg on whether to boycott Rick Perry
COMMENTARY | December 10, 2011
Two longtime Iowa journalists, one a professor, the other an editorial page editor, in a brief colloquy on whether Rick Perry should pay a price – no editorial board meeting – because of some outrageous remarks.

Have the Iowa GOP caucuses been reduced to irrelevancy?
COMMENTARY | June 13, 2011
Romney’s scaling back leaves the Iowa Republican party, controlled by the religious right, flailing and hard up for funds, and with an even dimmer outlook for future campaigns. For front-runners there is the ‘why bother’ element.

The Iowa Bible camp… er, GOP straw poll, that is, will be here before long
COMMENTARY | June 10, 2011
The question is, who’s going to be hurting the most: candidates like Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman who are at least partially avoiding Iowa this year, or the Iowa Republican party, if its caucuses fail to pull in a lot of money?

The Iowa Caucuses -- too ingrained to fail?
COMMENTARY | May 18, 2011
What with the religious right's takeover of Republican politics in Iowa and other oddities, reasonable observers might expect the Iowa GOP caucuses to just decline and disappear. But then, what would candidates do before New Hampshire? And what would happen to those political writers in the Hawkeye State and those who love going to it?

Religious zealots as good ol’ boys
COMMENTARY | April 28, 2011
Pity the reporters who’ll be called on to cover the Iowa Republican caucuses, caught between their editors needing stories on the one side and the hard Christian right pushing their views on the other. How to describe these would-be President-makers? Call them evangelicals, don’t dig beyond that – and get out of the state? That's a common approach, but Herb Strentz has a problem with it.

In Iowa, gimme that old-time religion
COMMENTARY | March 16, 2011
Herb Strentz puts the Iowa GOP platform to verse, which doesn't improve it any. And he comes up with a neat find: Hollywood anticipated the upcoming Iowa GOP caucuses 70 years ago in the movie Sergeant York, which has one of the all-time great rock-church scenes. If only Gingrich, Pawlenty, Romney et al could play the strong, silent type.

Will GOP candidates out-devout each other in Iowa?
COMMENTARY | February 24, 2011
Tim Pawlenty visits, holds Bible studies, cites scripture, says he’s a ‘devout, open Christian.’ Coming soon are Ron Paul and Michelle Bachmann. Can they match that? Candidates who want to succeed in Iowa may have to.

Turning the Iowa GOP caucuses into an extremism limbo
COMMENTARY | January 18, 2011
Iowa's results can be significant in a presidential race; Obama’s showing in 2008 is proof of that. But next year only the GOP caucuses will be relevant -- and the GOP in Iowa these days is controlled by right-wing religious extremists. How far will candidates bend to get their approval?

Teaching judges a lesson in Iowa
COMMENTARY | November 03, 2010
Three state supreme court justices, under fire for ruling that a ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, were ousted by voters Tuesday. Will such extreme action have any bearing on Iowa’s premiere position as a presidential bellwether state?

Which is more bizarre: The Iowa GOP platform or the failure of the press to report it?
ASK THIS | July 09, 2010
The platform, claiming to promote moderation, would allow concealed guns in schools, end minimum wage and abortion laws, teach creationism, and impeach ‘activist judges.’ Anybody paying attention? The Iowa press sure doesn't seem to be.

Cheap shots and scurrilous comments on the Internet, as seen from the heartland
COMMENTARY | April 26, 2010
Some old Des Moines newspaper hands wade into the argument over anonymous postings on websites. One is reminded of a country song, "I'm Ashamed To Be Here (But Not Ashamed Enough To Leave)."

How Iowans are looking at Grassley
COMMENTARY | September 01, 2009
Back home, the five-term senator is regarded as a hard worker, likeable, and a person of integrity. But his actions and statements on health care reform are drawing sharp rebukes.

In the Iowa straw poll, candidates got exactly what they paid for
COMMENTARY | August 12, 2007
Romney got 32% of the votes -- but he kicked in 32% of the funding. That's fun and games and democracy at work. (One in a series on the Iowa caucuses.)

For Democrats in Iowa, spin counts a lot more than the actual numbers
COMMENTARY | August 07, 2007
No one may ever know what the actual popular vote is in the Iowa Democratic caucuses—and traditionally, no one much cares. The press will still contrive to tell us who the winners and losers are. (One in an occasional series)

By dropping out, McCain, Giuliani bring a little sanity to Iowa 'straw poll'
COMMENTARY | June 07, 2007
Pity the poor pollsters working in Iowa, and analysts trying to make sense of their numbers. Romney leads in one Iowa poll but is third in another; Clinton leads in one and is last in another.

The Iowa caucuses: Hope and hokum in the heartland
COMMENTARY | June 07, 2007
It’s crisis time: Millions may pick their presidential preferences very early next year--before the Iowa caucuses and thus without the wisdom of a handful of Iowans to guide them. Will the media be able to handle that?

Cameras in the U.S. Supreme Court: Does S. 1768 make sense?
ASK THIS | August 29, 2006
“The First Amendment principles for broadcast presence in the courts are as strong as ever,” writes Herb Strentz, “but to suggest that today’s television content and priorities are well suited for better educating the public about the judicial system is a dubious proposition.”

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