Rural Computer-Assisted Reporting workshop conveys critical skills; fellowship available to full-scale CAR Boot Camp

IRE logologoTwelve journalists from five states and Washington, D.C., learned computer-assisted reporting or honed their basic CAR skills at a workshop at the University of Kentucky, sponsored by the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues and Investigative Reporters and Editors. This was the second Rural Computer-Assisted Reporting Investigate Mini-Boot Camp funded by the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation; the first was held at East Tennessee State University. For a short video about the current workshop, produced by UK journalism professor Buck Ryan on his iPhone with ReelDirector, click here.

Daniel Gilbert, left, with Mike Owens at the workshop
Daniel Gilbert, left, with Herald-Courier's Mike Owens at ETSU

The R-CAR program was started with a gift to the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues from Daniel Gilbert, a Wall Street Journal energy reporter who won a Pulitzer Prize for the Bristol Herald Courier in 2010 with his reporting on state and energy-company mismanagement of pooled natural-gas royalties in Southwest Virginia. He donated his $10,000 prize from another contest, the Scripps Howard Awards, to the Institute's endowment to create a fund that sends journalists to IRE's six-day CAR boot camp, at which he learned the skills that enabled him to do the series. The Scripps Howard Foundation matched his gift, and the state of Kentucky matched both, creating a $40,000 fund that generates enough earnings to sponsor two journalists each year. (Read more)

MartinKate Martin of the Skagit Valley Herald, in Mt. Vernon, Wash., was the inaugral IRE boot camp fellow. She says thanks to the CAR boot camp "I am no longer at the mercy of my sources to look up a figure or fact for me. I can have them send me the source file and work with it on my own." (Read more)

If you are a rural journalist interested in applying for a fellowship to a full, six-day IRE CAR boot camp, click here to download an application and details.


Kentuckians win Gish Award for courage, integrity, tenacity in rural journalism, Smith Award for public service

A couple who created a new sense of community in rural America with an online news site, and a crusading weekly editor who set an example that drew national attention, are the winners of this year’s top awards from the Institute.

The awards are the Al Smith Award for public service in community journalism by a Kentuckian, which is co-sponsored by the Society of Professional Journalists Bluegrass Chapter, and the Tom and Pat Gish Award for the courage, tenacity and integrity that are so often needed to do good rural journalism.

ArderyBishopThe Smith Award, named for the Institute's co-founder, goes to Bill Bishop and Julie Ardery, husband and wife of La Grange, Texas, and natives of Louisville.  For several years recently they were co-editors of the Daily Yonder, the online news site of the Center for Rural Strategies, which Institute Director Al Cross says has “created a much greater sense of community among rural people in a diverse, changing rural America."

WillsThe Gish Award goes posthumously to Landon Wills, who was publisher of the McLean County News in Calhoun, Ky., from 1946 to 1972, and editor for almost all that time. He was the subject of a national television documentary in 1963 after advocating for civil rights and community development, and against religious prejudice and political mendacity.

The award is named for Tom and Pat Gish, who published The Mountain Eagle in Whitesburg, Ky., for more than 51 years. Tom died in 2008; Pat died in 2014, and their son Ben is editor. The Gishes have withstood advertiser boycotts, business competition, declining population, personal attacks, and even the burning of their office to give their readers the kind of journalism often lacking in rural areas.

For details on the awards, click here.

Institute hosts visiting scholar from China

Dr. You You, a sociologist and lecturer in the Department of Journalism at Shanghai University, spent the 2012-13 academic year with the Institute to build on the research she has done in China on the role of mass media in rural areas.

Dr. You discussed her research at the first Global Mountain Regions Conference, held by the University of Kentucky's Appalachian Center in October 2012. Here's a short video about it, by Buck Ryan of the UK School of Journalism and Telecommunications:

After consultations with UK faculty, she focused her research on Clay County, Kentucky, and the community of Oneida. Below, she confers with Jay Nolan of Nolan Newspapers, publisher of The Manchester Enterprise, about a survey that the company mailed to a random sample of Enterprise readers and all residents of Oneida to assist with her research.


The Enterprise also benefited from the work of Mary Austin, a student in Institute Director Al Cross's Community Journalism course. She wrote a front-page lead story for the Enterprise about a local political forum which the paper's editor moderated, and did a story for newspapers in the Eastern Kentucky Coalfield about a more favorable attitude toward the coal industry in the region because of changing conditions in the industry, the economy and politics.

Those findings were reflected in the 2012 defeat of Democratic U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler, whose district had been moved eastward to take in counties near the coalfield, and figures in Kentucky's 2014 U.S. Senate race, in which Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell talks often about the Obama administration's "War on Coal."

Institute Director Al Cross is teaching a course, "Covering the Senate Race," in the fall semester. To read the students' reporting, click here.



The Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues is supported by the University of Kentucky and donors who support our mission. To make a tax-deductible donation to the endowment, via a secure Web site, click here and select the Institute from the pull-down list of funds; to make a tax-deductible gift to our operating account, choose "Other" and type in "IRJCI operating."


Institute for Rural Journalism & Community Issues
School of Journalism and Telecommunications, College of Communications & Information 122 Grehan Building, University of Kentucky, Lexington KY 40506-0042
Phone 859-257-3744 - Fax 859-323-3168

Al Cross, director al.cross@uky.edu