Government

Dean Borg: Model journalist, welcoming leader

Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack (from left), #x201c;Iowa Press#x201d; moderator Dean Borg, and panelists Dave Yepsen and Mike Glov
Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack (from left), “Iowa Press” moderator Dean Borg, and panelists Dave Yepsen and Mike Glover chat on set before an April 2003 taping of “Iowa Press.” Borg, the public affairs program’s longtime host, died this month at age 81. (AP file photo)

I will never forget Dean Borg, for myriad reasons.

But one reason stands above the rest.

Dean Borg, the longtime host of “Iowa Press,” Iowa PBS’ flagship public affairs program, died March 22 from complications caused by pancreatic cancer. He was 81 years old.

Borg was the consummate journalist. A pro’s pro. Everything you wanted in a reporter.

But I will forever remember him for the kindness and openness he showed a print reporter making his television debut while still relatively new to his job.

Borg still was hosting “Iowa Press” when I was first invited to contribute to the show in early 2015. I was nervous, not having done much TV work since serving as sports anchor for my college station. That probably was not going to relate well to my “Iowa Press” work. And I was still relatively new to the Statehouse press corps; I had started my work with Lee newspapers only a few months earlier.

And yet, right away Borg made me feel like a valued member of the team. Even though I was the rookie, the new guy, he not only encouraged me, he sought my feedback.

After taping, Borg would ask me how I felt the show went, if I thought we asked good questions and got interesting or newsworthy answers. I was amazed at the time. This man has been working on this show for nearly 50 years, and he’s asking for my input. That blew me away.

I will always appreciate that.

Borg retired as the host of “Iowa Press” at the end of 2016. I will cherish the times — the opportunities — that I worked with and learned from him. But what I will take with me most is the way he immediately made me feel not only welcome, but valued.

So thank you, Dean Borg, for decades of service to journalism and the state you called home.

And thank you for welcoming me to the “Iowa Press” family.

Dean Borg was a great man, for many reasons. May he rest in peace, and may his memory forever live in Iowa journalists.

Primaries on media mute

One figurative casualty of the novel coronavirus has been news coverage of the congressional primaries in Iowa.

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If you’ll allow me to be a little introspective here: It’s amazing to me how little coverage has been dedicated to Iowa’s primary elections, particularly the race for the Democratic nomination to run this fall for the U.S. Senate and the Republican primary contests in the 2nd and 4th U.S. House districts.

Those are, to varying degrees, competitive races, and the coverage, including from yours truly, has been lighter than one would typically expect.

Of course, there are multiple reasons for that. The Iowa caucuses took up most of the oxygen in the state’s media sphere through February. Then it was the early weeks of the Iowa Legislature that took over.

Then the coronavirus hit.

Unfortunately, it does not appear the virus is going away anytime soon. The number of cases continues to climb as it spreads and more testing is conducted. And this past week included the first three virus-related deaths in Iowa.

The virus’ spread — and its overwhelming impact on all Iowans — requires a great deal of attention, including from journalists.

That leaves the congressional primaries operating largely in media silence.

I hope to change that in the coming days and weeks before the June 2 primary. Readers deserve to hear about the candidates who want to represent them in the nation’s capital.

Erin Murphy covers Iowa politics and government. His email address is erin.murphy@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter at @ErinDMurphy.

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We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.