Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues Initiative
Ron Eller (History) and Roy L. Moore (Journalism)
Society of Professional Journalists Sigma Delta Chi Foundation
($25,000) and the Appalachian Regional Commission ($30,000)
07/01/02 - 02/01/03
The Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues is a multi-disciplinary
consortium dedicated to strengthening and invigorating local newspapers,
broadcasting stations, and other mass media instruments in central
Appalachia. It focuses on the role of the media in community infrastructure,
stimulates reporting of local and regional social and economic
issues, and seeks to energize public discourse. The Institute
organizes collaborative research, fosters professional growth,
and promotes career development. It emphasizes the regional character
of major social and economic issues and demonstrates the importance
of vigorous news organizations in the challenging circumstances
of rural Appalachia. To this end, it maintains a database of media
ownership, circulation, staff retention and professional training.
Headquartered at the University of Kentucky, the Institute and
and university partners monitor local and regional news coverage
and organizes collaborative projects to examine regional issues.
Together, they create settings for professional exchanges between
journalists across the region and provide leadership and resources
to encourage investigative and explanatory journalism. Through
awards, fellowships, and public recognition, the Institute stimulates
initiative and original reporting, particularly in the areas of
government, politics, education, social welfare, natural resources,
and the economy.
initiative has held four exploratory conferences in four states
so far and is conducting two conferences later this year, including
one jointly sponsored by UK and Eastern Kentucky University. At
each of the conferences, professional journalists met with members
of citizen groups and the steering committee headed by journalist
Al Smith (host of KET’s “Comment of Kentucky”)
to discuss how the initiative could promote rural journalism.
Each conference focused on a specific topic related to journalism.