Rural Computer-Assisted Reporting workshop conveys critical skills; fellowship available to full-scale CAR Boot Camp
Twelve journalists from five states and Washington, D.C., learned computer-assisted reporting or honed their basic CAR skills May 18-20 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 last October 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 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)
Kate 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. The next boot camp will be held in January; an application deadline for that fellowship will be announced soon.
N.C. couple win Gish Award for courage, integrity, tenacity in rural journalism
Jonathan and Susan Austin of the Yancey County News in Burnsville, N.C., are the winners of the 2012 Tom and Pat Gish Award for courage, tenacity and integrity in rural journalism. The Austins showed courage in starting a second newspaper in a one-newspaper town, in January 2011, then demonstrated courage, tenacity and integrity by their reporting on local corruption. (Photo by Bill Sanders, Asheville Citizen-Times)
The weekly paper reported in its first edition about a state investigation of vote-fraud allegations, then analyzed records obtained from investigators to report that the county had an unusually high number of absentee ballots, many of which were witnessed by employees of the county sheriff’s department and cast by criminal defendants, some of whose charges were soon dropped. The paper revealed that the county's chief deputy, the arresting officer in several cases in which the suspects immediately voted and were given leniency, was also pawning county-owned guns for personal gain. He has resigned and pleaded guilty to failing to discharge his duties. The vote-fraud investigation continues.
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 remains publisher, 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.
The award committee included Ben Gish, son of Tom and Pat Gish and editor of The Mountain Eagle. He said, “Even though it occurred a few decades apart, I get the same feeling from looking at the examples of their work as I do when I look at copies of the Eagle when my parents were just getting started in the late 1950s.” For more on the Austins, click here.
Last year's winners were Stanley Nelsonand the weekly Concordia Sentinel of Ferriday, La., for probing an unsolved murder from the civil-rights era, and naming and interviewing a living suspect. (Read more) Other winners have been Samantha Swindler, editor-publisher of the Headlight Herald in Tillamook, Ore., in 2010 for work as editor of the Corbin, Ky., Times-Tribune and managing editor of the Jacksonville (Tex.) Daily Progress; Jim Prince and Stanley Dearman, current and former publishers of The Neshoba Democrat of Philadelphia, Miss., in 2008; the Ezzell family of The Canadian (Tex.) Record, in 2007; and the Gishes themselves in 2005.
Institute hosts visiting scholar from China
Dr. You You, a sociologist and lecturer in the Department of Journalism at Shanghai University, is spending 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 has decided to focus her research on Clay County, Kentucky, and the community of Oneida. Below, she confers with Edmund Shelby, who lives near Oneida and is the edtor of the local weekly newspaper, The Manchester Enterprise.
Shelby and the Enterprise are also benefiting from the work of Mary Austin, a student in Institute Director Al Cross's Communty Journalism course. She wrote a front-page lead story for the Enterprise about a local political forum which Shelby moderated, and is working on another story of interest to news media in the Central Appalachian coalfield. Stay tuned.
Institute hosts Business Reporting Workshop
What, exactly, do we cover that isn't business?
Linda Austin, executive director of the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism at Arizona State University, was explaining to a classroom full of journalists how business coverage has tremendous community impact and builds audience.
Austin asked the journalists gathered from Illinois, Ohio, Mississippi, Tennessee, West Virginia and Kentucky how much space, time and resources are devoted by their newspapers to business coverage.
The room seemed to universally recognize the gap. That's why they were there.
With an assist from the Institute, the Reynolds' Center and its associates took a day at the University of Kentucky to change that.
The star of the day was Chris Roush, the Walter E. Hussman Sr. Distinguished Scholar in business journalism at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and the director of the Carolina Business News Initiative. Roush pointed out that the U.S. has 22.9 million small businesses, which create 75 percent of the net new jobs to the economy and account for 99.7 percent of its employers. (Read more)
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