5.02.2007

Resource: Rural journalism ...
Should we be helping?

The Blog heard a National Public Radio piece the other night that turned us on to something we did not know about, namely the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues at the University of Kentucky.

The Institute is run by Al Cross, a former reporter for the The Courier-Journal in Louisville (he shared in their 1989 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the nation's deadliest bus crash and spent nearly two decades reporting in Kentucky).

The Blog believes this is an amazingly worthwhile intiative aimed at connecting people who often don't have the deep pockets for training, but who are working hard to serve their communities better. There are some adventurous rural journalists out there telling stories that touch readers' lives.

Interestingly, the folks who gathered for a recent summit said the bulk of the training they get is in layout because at these small places everyone's expected to be a designer. That sounds familiar to anyone who has ever worked in a small shop.

These journalists know that they also have to figure out more than just desktop publishing (think multimedia, ethics, reporting and technique skills) to make themselves remain relevant. That's one tough task with a tiny support network.

"I often say that there are plenty of good journalists in rural America, and many who could be better, but they suffer from the isolation that defines rurality," Cross said in his opening remarks for the summit. "They don't get enough opportunities to rub elbows and share experiences."

Enter the Institute. These journalists in rural America are thirsty for more help, more ideas and more resources for covering their areas and connecting with readers. The work these news organizations are doing is vital.

Trust us, there are readers, lest all the press gobbled up by major media makes you doubtful. The stats say that 21 percent of Americans, some 63 million people, are rural.

The Blog wonders: Should we, the members of SND, be doing some outreach work with the Institute to help train visual journalists at rural publications? There's an amazing spirit out there among SND-ers to better the craft. Let us know what you think ...

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