The Des Moines Register

The Des Moines Register
The Des Moines Register
The Masthead of
The Des Moines Register
Type Daily newspaper
Format Broadsheet
Owner Gannett Company
Publisher Laura Hollingsworth
Editor Rick Green
Founded 1849 (as The Iowa Star)
Headquarters 715 Locust Street
Des Moines, Iowa 50309
 United States
Circulation 116,876 Daily
204,926 Sunday[1]
Official website

The Des Moines Register is the daily morning newspaper of Des Moines, Iowa, in the United States. A separate edition of the Register is sold throughout much of Iowa.



The first newspaper in Des Moines, the Iowa Star, was founded in 1849. In 1855 the Iowa Citizen began publication; it was renamed the Iowa State Register in 1860. In 1902 the Register merged with the Des Moines Leader, a descendant of the Star, to become the Des Moines Register and Leader. In 1903, Des Moines banker Gardner Cowles, Sr. purchased the Register and Leader; the name became The Des Moines Register in 1915. (Cowles also acquired the Des Moines Tribune in 1908. The Tribune, which merged with the rival Des Moines News in 1924 and the Des Moines Capital in 1927, served as the evening paper for the Des Moines area until it ended publication on September 25, 1982.)

Under the ownership of Cowles Media Company, the Register became Iowa's largest and most influential newspaper, eventually adopting the slogan "The Newspaper Iowa Depends Upon." Newspapers were distributed to all four corners of the state by train and later by truck as Iowa's highway system was improving.

Register and Tribune Syndicate

It operated the Register and Tribune Syndicate, distributing columns and comic strips, notably with Will Eisner's The Spirit fronting a 16-page Sunday supplement known colloquially as "The Spirit Section". This was a tabloid-sized newsprint comic book sold as part of eventually 20 Sunday newspapers with a combined circulation of as many as five million copies.

The Register employed reporters in cities and towns throughout Iowa, and it covered national and international news stories from an Iowa perspective, even setting up its own news bureau in Washington, D.C. in 1933. During the 1960s, circulation of the Register peaked at nearly 250,000 for the daily edition and 500,000 for the Sunday edition–more than the population of Des Moines at the time. In 1935, the Register & Tribune Company founded radio station KRNT-AM, named after the newspapers' nickname, "the R 'n T." In 1955, the company, renamed Cowles Communications some years earlier, founded Des Moines' third television station, KRNT-TV, which was renamed KCCI after the radio station was sold in 1974. Cowles eventually acquired other newspapers, radio stations and television stations, but almost all of them were sold to other companies by 1985.

In 1906, the newspaper's first front-page editorial cartoon, illustrated by Jay Norwood Darling, was published; the tradition of front-page editorial cartoons continued until December 4, 2008 when 25-year veteran cartoonist Brian Duffy was let go in a round of staff cuts. In 1943, the Register became the first newspaper to sponsor a statewide opinion poll when it introduced the Iowa Poll, modeled after Iowan George Gallup's national Gallup poll. Sports coverage was increased under sports editor Garner "Sec" Taylor – for whom Sec Taylor Field at Principal Park is named – in the 1920s. For many years the Register printed its sports sections on peach-colored paper, but that tradition ended for the daily paper in 1981 and for the Sunday Register's "Big Peach" in 1999. Another Register tradition – the sponsorship of RAGBRAI – began in 1973 when writer John Karras challenged columnist Donald Kaul to do a border-to-border bicycle ride across Iowa. The liberal-leaning editorial page has recently brought Donald Kaul back for Sunday opinion columns. Other local columns have faded and given way to Gannett-distributed material.

In 1985, faced with declining circulation and revenues, the Cowles family sold off its various properties to different owners, with the Register going to Gannett. At the time of sale, only The New York Times had won more Pulitzer Prizes for national reporting. In 1990, the Register began to reduce its coverage of news outside of the Des Moines area by closing most of its Iowa news bureaus and ending carrier distribution to outlying counties, although an "Iowa Edition" of the Register is still distributed throughout most of the state. Many of the Register's news stories and editorials focus on Des Moines and its suburbs.

The Register opened a new printing and distribution facility on the south side of Des Moines in 2000. The newspaper's offices are located in downtown Des Moines. On June 1, 2005, the Register launched a weekly tabloid publication, Juice, which features entertainment and lifestyle stories targeted at the 25 to 34-year-old demographic. They also launched in conjunction with the free weekly publication.

Editorial philosophy

In the three decades before the Cowles family acquired the Register in 1903, the Register was a "voice of pragmatic conservatism."[1] However, Garner Cowles Sr., who served as a Republican in the Iowa General Assembly and was a delegate to the 1916 Republican National Convention,[2] was an advocate of progressive Republicanism.[1]The new owners presented a variety of viewpoints, including Darling cartoons that frequently made fun of progressive politicians.[3]

During the Cowles' family's ownership, the Register's editorial page philosophy was generally more liberal in its outlook than editorial pages of other Iowa newspapers, but there were notable exceptions. Garner Cowles Sr. served in the administration of President Herbert Hoover.[2] The publishers strongly supported Republican Wendell Willkie's 1940 presidential campaign against Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt.[4] The newspaper also supported Republican Dwight Eisenhower's campaigns for the Republican nomination and general election in 1952, and again in 1956.[4]. Although the Register endorsed presidential candidates Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964,[5] Hubert Humphrey in 1968,[6] and Jimmy Carter in 1976,[7] it endorsed Richard Nixon in 1960[5] and 1972.[8]

The paper was a severe critic of George W. Bush's warrantless wiretapping strategy, claiming that in doing so, "President Bush has declared war on the American people."

In December 2007, two weeks before the 2008 Iowa caucuses, the Register endorsed Hillary Rodham Clinton (in the Democratic caucuses) and John McCain (in the Republican caucuses).[9] In October 2008, the Register endorsed Barack Obama for president in the general election.[10]

CIETC lawsuit

The Register has been critically covering a scandal in which the Central Iowa Employment and Training Consortium (CIETC) allegedly misspent $1.2 million dollars of state money, and a subsidiary scandal with regards to CIETC's failing to meet the requirements of Iowa's open meeting laws. The Register filed suit against CIETC in 2006, claiming it violated open meeting laws when it closed certain meetings to the public. On May 30, 2007, the lawsuit was amended to included twenty-three current and former board members of CIETC as defendants in the suit, including thirteen elected officials.

Iowa Student Loan lawsuit

On August 24, 2007 Iowa Student Loan settled a lawsuit filed by the Des Moines Register, agreeing to provide the paper with nearly all the public documents it had requested beginning in April 2007. Under Iowa's open records law, the Register sought copies of emails in the possession of state employee Greg Nichols, an employee of the Iowa Board of Regents and a member of the board of directors of Iowa Student Loan.

Iowa Student Loan subsequently sought an injunction that would have blocked the Iowa Board of Regents from releasing the emails in question to the newspaper.

The Des Moines Register also sought emails from the Iowa Division of Banking, a state agency, in the possession of Tom Gronstal, also a member of the Iowa Student Loan board of directors. Iowa Student Loan also sought an injunction to prevent the release of those emails.

Iowa Assistant Attorney General Robert Porter said on August 24 that both parties had agreed out-of-court to the release of most of the documents without any redactions.


Current Register columnists include Jane Norman, Rekha Basu, John Carlson, and Marc Hansen. Former columnist Rob Borsellino, who authored the book So I'm Talkin' to This Guy... (ISBN 1-888223-66-9), died of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis on May 27, 2006.


The Register has won 16 Pulitzer Prizes over the years: [2] [3]

Register writer Clark Kauffman was one of three finalists for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting for his exposure of glaring injustice in the handling of traffic tickets by public officials in Iowa.

Iowa Sports Hall of Fame

The Register sponsors the Iowa Sports Hall of Fame.


  1. ^ a b William B. Friedricks, "Covering Iowa: The History of the Des Moines Register and Tribune Company, 1849-1985," pp. 40-44 (Blackwell Pub. 2000), ISBN 0813826209.
  2. ^ a b Herbert Strentz, "Gardner Cowles, Sr.," at Cowles Family Publishing Legacy, Drake University (accessed 2009-03-08).
  3. ^ Editorial Cartoons of J.N. 'Ding' Darling (Iowa Digital Library: University of Iowa Libraries) - Cartoons referencing or depicting progressivism or progressives (accessed 2009-03-09).
  4. ^ a b Herbert Strentz, "Gardner (Mike) Cowles, Jr.," at Cowles Family Publishing Legacy, Drake University (accessed 2009-03-08).
  5. ^ a b “How Iowa Dailies See Candidates,” Des Moines Register, 1964-10-25 at 6-F.
  6. ^ Editorial, “Difficult Choice for President,” Des Moines Register, 1968-10-27 at 12-T.
  7. ^ Editorial, “The Presidential Ticket,” Des Moines Register, 1976-10-24, at B1.
  8. ^ Editorial, “The Choice for President,” Des Moines Register, 1972-10-29 at 10-C.
  9. ^ "'Des Moines Register' backs McCain, Clinton," USA Today, 2007-12-17 (accessed 2009-03-08).
  10. ^ Register editorial board endorses Obama for President, Des Moines Register, 2008-10-25 (accessed 2009-03-08).

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Des Moines Register, The — ▪ American newspaper       morning daily newspaper published in Des Moines, Iowa, one of the most influential regional newspapers in the United States.       It was founded in 1860. It absorbed its older competitor, the Des Moines Leader (founded …   Universalium

  • Des Moines, Iowa — Des Moines redirects here. For other uses, see Des Moines (disambiguation). City of Des Moines   City   Clockwise from top: 801 Grand …   Wikipedia

  • Des Moines Dragons — Founded 1997 Folded 2001 City Des Moines, Iowa …   Wikipedia

  • Des Moines Buccaneers — City Des Moines, Iowa League …   Wikipedia

  • Des Moines Tribune — Type Daily newspaper Format Broadsheet Owner Cowles family Founded 1906 Language English Ceased publication …   Wikipedia

  • Des Moines County Court House — U.S. National Register of Historic Places …   Wikipedia

  • Des Moines County, Iowa — Location in the state of Iowa …   Wikipedia

  • Des Moines International Airport — IATA: DSM – ICAO: KDSM – FAA LID: DSM Summary …   Wikipedia

  • Des Moines — Spitzname: DSM, The 515, DeMo, City of Skywalks, The Hartford of the West Skyline, Des Moines …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Des Moines (Iowa) — Des Moines Spitzname: DSM, The 515, DeMo, City of Skywalks, The Hartford of the West Skyline, Des Moines …   Deutsch Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”