Covering Iowa Startups: Marco Santana of the Des Moines Register

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This is part of week long series called "Covering Iowa Startups" profiling the five people who regularly write about startups in our community. Next up: Megan Bannister of Silicon Prairie News.

Des Moines Register — Marco Santana

The Des Moines Register is one of the largest news organizations in the state and the community paper for the Des Moines-area. It’s a traditional journalism entity that “covers” the community from an external perspective without bias (as much as that is possible for anyone). It’s published in print and online (paywalled) each day.

Why it’s important

As a traditional community news publication The Des Moines Register gets read widely by people outside of startup circles (read: potential users/customers of your product). Because of that audience, stories are often written in layman’s terms. As the most nationally-known news outlet that covers Iowa startups there’s a credibility to having your startup covered in the publication.

As we move forward, it’ll be exciting to showcase the cool things entrepreneurs in Iowa do in USA Today, which recently included me on an initiative that aims to shine a bigger spotlight on the country’s different technology and startup communities.

— Marco Santana

The Des Moines Register is owned by The Gannett Company which owns community papers of all sizes (including the Iowa City Press Citizen) around the country. If the Des Moines Register covers your startup there’s a potential the story will also get picked up by another outlet within their network. Most importantly, Gannett owns USA Today so there’s a chance the story will get picked up and run in a national publication as well.

The reporter

Marco Santana is the main technology reporter at the Des Moines Register. The paper describes his beat as “Innovation in Iowa” noting that can mean projects from individuals or technological advances at major corporations. Other business reporters like Lynn Hicks (Executive Business Editor), Josh Hafner (young professionals) and Matthew Patane (economic development) will write startup stories as it overlaps with their focus.

Advice for pitching Marco — “When I see a story pitch, my first thought is how wide of an audience would benefit from the product/idea/trend. We are a general interest newspaper so our readers have very diverse backgrounds we must appeal to. That means varying ages, interests and locations. If I were a startup pitching me a story, the pitch would focus less on my product or company and more on how Joe Six-Pack’s family members would be affected. For instance, I wrote a story about Hatchlings last year that talked more about how players used the game than the actual game itself. Those who pitch ideas should take a step back and see how the greater community would benefit from the story. Also, the more information to inform my decision on whether to write a story, the better.”

Lunch and Learn

StartupCity Des Moines is hosting a "Meet the Press" Lunch and Learn on Thursday if you'd like to meet Marco in person. Register (no cost) right here and then bring your lunch to 317 6th Avenue, 5th Floor) at noon.


Geoff Wood has been helping tell the story of the Iowa startup community since 2009. In addition to writing here daily, he hosts a weekly podcast, speaks at conferences and organizes several events in the community.

Photo Credit: Header image via startupstockphotos.com, logo via Twitter, headshot via Facebook