Sullivan native Trevis Mayfield received a Friend of the First Amendment Award from the Iowa Freedom of Information Council in September. Mayfield, who majored in journalism at Indiana State University and once worked for the Sullivan Daily Times, was one of three 2019 recipients of the annual recognition.
The son of Bill and Delora Mayfield, he is a 1984 graduate of Sullivan High School and 1988 graduate of ISU.
Mayfield, the editor and publisher of the Maquoketa Sentinel-Press since 2014, has shown that important public accountability reporting can be done effectively even with a small news staff, said Randy Evans, executive director of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council.
Mayfield and his staff used Iowa’s public records law to press government officials for answers when a local prosecutor was let off with a misdemeanor ticket after she and her boyfriend were drinking alcohol while she drove, Evans said. Public questions arose when it became known that a law officer had driven the prosecutor back to Maquoketa, Iowa where she spent the night in her office in the courthouse. Adding to the questions were the decisions by some officials to withhold body camera and dash-camera videos of the incident and inaccurate public statements about what transpired, he added.
Mayfield’s strong columns and editorials focused on the importance of government officials making the videos public to put to rest questions about whether the prosecutor received preferential treatment because she works closely with law officers, Evans said.
“This award belongs to our entire staff,” Mayfield said. “Everyone in our organization has contributed to this ongoing effort one way or another. Elected and appointed officials are accountable to no one but the public, and it’s a fundamental part of a newspaper’s job to do its best to keep them informed, no matter the size of the community.”
Mayfield and his wife, Nancy, own Sycamore Media, which operates three newspapers, a magazine, specialty publications and digital products in Eastern Iowa.
Over the past 30 years, Mayfield has worked in newsrooms and as a publisher and chief operating officer at media companies in South Carolina; Tampa, Florida; the Chicago metro area; Terre Haute; and Dixon, Illinois.