Program to Recognize ‘Journalism Heroes’

Contact: Ralph Derickson

 

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The institute was established in 2001 with grants of $30,000 from the Appalachian Regional Commission and $25,000 from the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation of the Society of Professional Journalists. It obtained a staff this summer, thanks to a $250,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and $50,000 from the Ford Foundation.

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (Sept. 28, 2004) -- A new program to help rural journalists will give special recognition to a couple of “journalism heroes” when it announces details of its efforts Oct. 4 in Whitesburg.

The Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, based in the University of Kentucky’s School of Journalism and Telecommunications, was created to help rural journalists set the public agenda in their communities and grasp regional issues that have local impact.

Details of that mission will be announced in the Appalshop Theater in Whitesburg, following meetings of representatives from UK and other universities cooperating in the effort. The public is invited to hear the announcements at 10:30 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 4, in the Appalshop building at 91 Madison Ave., Whitesburg.

Part of the institute’s mission is to recognize exemplary rural journalists, to provide examples for others to follow. As part of that effort, the institute will announce an award to be made regularly in honor of Tom and Pat Gish, publishers of the Mountain Eagle in Whitesburg since 1958.

“Tom and Pat are journalism heroes. They exemplify the courage and tenacity that is often necessary to render necessary public service in journalism, especially in rural areas,” said Al Cross, who became interim director of the institute Aug. 1, after more than 26 years at The (Louisville) Courier-Journal.

The program has already begun to recognize good rural journalism in The Rural Blog, published on its Web site.         

The institute was established in 2001 with grants of $30,000 from the Appalachian Regional Commission and $25,000 from the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation of the Society of Professional Journalists. It obtained a staff this summer, thanks to a $250,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and $50,000 from the Ford Foundation.

Its initial focus area is Central Appalachia, but as an arm of UK, it has a statewide mission, with national scope. Cooperating institutions include Appalachian State University, Eastern Kentucky University, Marshall University, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, and West Virginia University.

Speakers at the Oct. 4 event will include UK Provost Michael Nietzel and KET-TV “Comment on Kentucky” host Al Smith, a former rural publisher who helped create the institute. For further information, contact Al Cross at (859) 257-3744.


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