Al Cross became director of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues in August 2004 after more than 26 years as a reporter at The Courier-Journal, the last 15½ as the Louisville newspaper's chief political writer. He is a professor in the School of Journalism and Media at the University of Kentucky, where the Institute is based. His faculty appointment is in the Extension Title Series, reflecting what he has long said is his short job description, "extension agent for rural journalists."

As Institute director he is editor and publisher of Kentucky Health News and The Rural Blog, a daily digest of events, trends, issues, ideas and journalism from and about rural America. As teacher of Community Journalism courses, he edits and publishes student work in the Midway Messenger, an online and twice-yearly printed newspaper for Midway, Ky., and the surrounding area.

His awards include a share of the Pulitzer Prize won by The Courier-Journal staff in 1989 for coverage of the nation's deadliest bus crash; the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame (2010), the James Madison First Amendment Award of the Scripps Howard First Amendment Center at UK (2015), the media awards of the East Kentucky Leadership Foundation (2006) and the Kentucky Psychological Association (2013), and awards for reporting and column writing from the Louisville Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. He was national SPJ president in 2001-02 and received the Wells Key, the top award for service to SPJ.

He is often quoted nationally on Kentucky politics and has appeared on PBS’s “Washington Week In Review” and was a frequent guest on KET’s “Comment on Kentucky” before becoming an election-night analyst on the statewide network. He authored the Kentucky Encyclopedia article on Gov. Wallace Wilkinson , was a major contributor to the second edition of Kentucky’s Governors, and wrote a chapter on rural voters in the book The Trump Presidency, Journalism and Democracy (Routledge, 2018). He and his brother David, an Albany attorney, co-authored “Republican Redoubt: The Politics of Kentucky’s Upper Cumberland,” a chapter in People of the Upper Cumberland (University of Tennessee Press, 2015). He is secretary of the Kentucky Judicial Campaign Conduct Committee, a non-profit, non-partisan organization.

Cross is a graduate of Western Kentucky University. He wrote for the Clinton County News and was an announcer at WANY in Albany. He was editor of The Reporter in Monticello in 1975; assistant managing editor of The Logan Leader and The News-Democrat at Russellville in 1975-77; and editor of the Leitchfield Gazette and the Grayson County News-Gazette in 1977-78. He established a Courier-Journal bureau at Somerset in May 1978, moving with it to Bardstown in January 1979. He covered legislative sessions from 1980 to 2004. In Louisville in 1984-86, he covered education, transportation and politics. In 1987 he joined The C-J's Frankfort Bureau in 1989 became political writer, covering politics from local to presidential elections. He is married to Patti Hodges Cross, a Grayson County native and independent designer/editor of publications. They live in a 1907 home in historic South Frankfort, near the state Capitol, with Henry, their West Highland White Terrier.

Staff Assistant: Heather Chapman

Institute for Rural Journalism & Community Issues
School of Journalism and Telecommunications, College of Communications & Information Studies
343 S. Martin Luther King Blvd., #206, University of Kentucky, Lexington KY 40506-0012
Phone 859-257-3744 - Fax 859-323-3168

Al Cross, director al.cross@uky.edu