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Encyclopedia Dubuque


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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.

COOPER, Brian E.

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COOPER, Brian E. (Alton, IL 1954- ). Journalist at the Telegraph Herald, a division of Dubuque-based Woodward Communications, Inc., since 1986. His 30 years as executive editor, from May 1986 through 2016, represent the longest tenure of any senior editor at the Telegraph Herald. After requesting a reduced role as a transitional step toward retirement, Cooper on January 1, 2017, became the Telegraph Herald’s editorial page editor and special projects resource. (1) He was succeeded as executive editor by Dubuque native Amy GILLIGAN, the first woman to hold the role. (2)

Cooper came to Dubuque after four years as editor of The Ottumwa (Iowa) Courier (1982-86). He also held newsroom management positions at the Winona (Minn.) Daily News (1981-82) and The Quincy (Ill.) Herald-Whig (1976-80).

Raised in the Chicago suburbs, he attended Western Illinois University for two years and then earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia (1976).

Cooper received the Iowa Newspaper Association’s two highest honors, the Distinguished Service Award (1994) and Master Editor-Publisher Award (2009). He received the Stephen Berry Free Press Champion Award from the Iowa Center of Public Affairs Journalism-IowaWatch in 2014. Cooper serves on several committees and boards that exist to protect the First Amendment, including the Iowa Newspaper Association's Government Relations Committee and Iowa Freedom of Information Council. For his defense of the First Amendment, in September, 2019 Cooper was the recipient of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council's annual Harrison "Skip" Weber Friend of the First Amendment Award. For more than 35 years he has served as an expanded news media coordinator for use of cameras and electronic devices in covering Iowa court proceedings. (3) In his recognition of Cooper's impact on behalf of public access, Randy Evans, executve director of the Iowa Freedom of information Council stated:

                       Brian has been a towering figure for more than
                       30 years in the quest for improved government
                       transparency in Iowa. He has passionately made
                       the case in the Telegraph Heraldeditorials,
                       in its news coverage, and in conversations with
                       The citizens of Iowa owe a huge debt of gratitude
                       to Brian. (4)

During his editorship, the Telegraph Herald launched its website (January 1996), incorporated social media as a means of disseminating news, launched magazines, resumed Saturday publication after an absence of six decades (August 1988), and converted from weekday afternoon to every-morning publication (September 1996).

Cooper’s TH columns and editorials have received state and regional recognition. He has served as president of the Iowa Newspaper Foundation, Iowa Freedom of Information Council and Iowa Associated Press Managing Editors.

One of Cooper’s outside pursuits is writing non-fiction books, including sports biographies and commissioned family-corporate histories. Two of his three sports biographies are of Dubuque County natives: First Heisman: The Life of Jay Berwanger (2013, Crestwood Publishing) and Red Faber: A Biography of the Hall of Fame Spitball Pitcher (2007, McFarland & Co.). He also authored Ray Schalk: A Baseball Biography (2009, McFarland). (5)

His corporate histories include McCoy Group: A History of Commitment to the Customer (2012) and Biggest Gamble on the Mississippi: The Story of the Robert and Ruth Kehl Family (2017, Crestwood Publishing), on Dubuque riverboat and restaurant entrepreneurs Robert KEHL and his wife, Ruth. A history on Farber Bag & Supply Company was projected for 2018 release. (6)

KLAUER MANUFACTURING COMPANY employed Cooper to write Klauer Manufacturing: A Family Enterprise's First 150 Years. Recounting the growth of the small hardware store into a five-generation manufacturing concern, Cooper remarked that the company's history showed it's commitment to being a strong civic partner. During the GREAT DEPRESSION the company did all it could to retain employees. Continuing to be one of the city's largest employers, Klauer Manufacturing, according to Cooper, found that operating ethically and honestly served them well. (7)



Contributed material, Brian Cooper, e-mail, December 30, 2017

1. "TH Executive Editor to Take on New Role," Telegraph Herald, December 2, 2016, p. 3A

2. "Gilligan Named TH Executive Editor," Telegraph Herald, December 7, 2016, p. 3A

3. "Cooper Receives Free Press Award," Telegraph Herald, October 3, 2014, p. 3A

4. Gilligan, Amy, "1st Amendment Advocate Cooper Cited by Peers," Telegraph Herald, October 1, 2019, p. 4A

5. Cooper, Brian, supplied information

6. Ibid.

7. Montgomery, Jeff, "Book Marks 150 Years for Dubuque Manufacturer," Telegraph Herald, April 6, 2021, p. 1A