- Spring 2008
David A. Yepsen is the Des Moines Register’s political columnist. He is a native of Jefferson, Iowa and is a 1972 graduate of the University of Iowa. Yepsen has also done graduate work in journalism and mass communication at Iowa State University and in 1985 earned a Masters in Public Administration (MPA) degree from Drake University.
In 1989 Yepsen was a fellow at the Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
Prior to joining The Register and Tribune in 1974, Yepsen worked for two years as a reporter for the Quad City Times in Davenport, Iowa. During his newspaper career he has covered a variety of beats including policy, city hall, courthouse and the Iowa Statehouse. In 1977 Yepsen became a statehouse reporter for the Register and chief political reporter in 1983. In 1994 he was named political editor and in 2000 became the Register’s full-time political columnist. His column appears on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays and he also blogs about politics for the paper¹s website DesMoinesRegister.com.
He has also been a regular panelist on Iowa Public Television’s weekly Iowa Press news interview program for nearly 30 years. Yepsen has also appeared on a variety of national radio and television programs commenting on Iowa politics and the presidential caucus campaigns in the state.
In November, 1994, the Hotline named Yepsen one of “America’s best political reporters outside the Beltway.” In 1997, the Washingtonian Magazine name him one of the “best Washington reporters who don’t live in Washington” and in 2000 Brill’s Content magazine named him to their list of “all-star” political writers. In 1997 Cityview Magazine in Des Moines named him one of their ten “People of the Year “who” make “Des Moines a better place to live.” Readers of that publication also voted him the “best Columnist” in Des Moines in 2001 and 2002. In 2001, his editors awarded him the Register’s “Best Commentary” award for that year. He has also been a contributor to Fox News during caucus campaigns.
In 1999, veteran political reporter Jack Germond wrote Yepsen “is one of the premier political writers in the country.” Yepsen served on the national advisory board for the start of “stateline.org,” an Internet publication started by the Pew Foundation to improve coverage of state governments.
In his book about his 1988 presidential campaign, the late Illinois Senator Paul Simon praised Yepsen's objectivity.
"Every four years the chief political reporter for the 'Des Moines Register' becomes the most important reporter in the nation," he said. "It is a position that could cause vanity and abuse. To his credit, David Yepsen handled this position with sensitivity and balance. And he worked hard."
In the late 1980s, Yepsen served as a part-time instructor at Drake University where he taught a course entitled “The Press, The Politician and The Public Manager” on how public officials can better deal with the media.
Drafted in 1972, he fulfilled his military obligation with a six-year sting in the Iowa Army National Guard where he served in the public information office.
Yepsen was born Oct. 12, 1950 in Jefferson, Iowa. He is the son of Arlon and Marjorie Yepsen of Jefferson. He graduated from high school there in 1968 and helped start its alumni foundation.
He has had a life long interest in politics. In high school he was elected student body president and in 1967 he was elected governor of the Iowa American Legion’s Boys’ State program and a U.S. Senator in the group’s Boys Nation program. While at the University of Iowa, he was elected to the student senate and was a writer his senior year for The Daily Iowan, the campus newspaper.