December 22, 2016

Melody Kramer on community journalism

Melody Kramer, former NPR digital strategist, discovers the joys of community journalism. From Carrboro, N.C.

October 21, 2016

ISWNE, Huck Boyd Center issue call for applied research on community journalism

The International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors (ISWNE) and the Huck Boyd National Center for Community Media at Kansas State University are accepting proposals for papers that will provide guidance on general issues and/or everyday problems confronting community newspapers and their newsrooms.

This paper competition is an extension of the Huck Boyd Center’s former “Newspapers and Community-Building” Symposium, co-sponsored by the National Newspaper Association (NNA) and its foundation and presented for 20 years at NNA conventions. It is an effort to promote “conversations in community journalism” between academicians and journalists working for community newspapers.

Proposals will be peer-reviewed by faculty with expertise in community journalism. A panel of working and retired community journalists also will review proposals, focusing on their potential value to newsrooms.

Completed papers will undergo a final peer review prior to publication in an issue of ISWNE’s quarterly journal, Grassroots Editor. One paper will also be selected for presentation at the 2018 ISWNE conference in Portland, Oregon. The ISWNE Foundation will provide financial assistance to the author chosen to present.

The deadline for proposals is Jan. 2, 2017. Read the full call for papers after the jump.

August 31, 2016

AEJMC 2017: Call for community journalism panel proposals

The Community Journalism Interest Group is accepting panel proposals for the 2017 AEJMC conference in Chicago, and we would love to hear your programming ideas.

Members may submit three types of panel proposals: Professional Freedom & Responsibility (PF&R), Teaching, or Research. All division members must submit their panel proposals by September 26. Proposals may be sent to Programming Chair Clay Carey at

Proposals should include the following information (think of the list as a template for your proposal):

Panel Title

Panel Type (PF&R, Research, or Teaching)

Description of Panel (Generally 150-250 words)

Possible Panelists (List up to five, including affiliations and contact information. If you have already contacted the potential panelists about your panel, please say so)

Possible Moderator

Your Contact Information (name, affiliation, phone number, and email address)

July 19, 2016

Teach the value of community journalism at AEJMC preconference session

We still have spots available for our pre-conference session "‘Hyping’ hyperlocal: Teaching the value of community journalism in the classroom and the startup." I've listed this session as one of our interest group's biggest accomplishments because I think it offers the perfect opportunity and the necessary time to really explore the issue that makes our group tick: the impact of community on journalism and vice versa and how to apply it in the ever-changing new media world.

Speakers include members and past presidents of the interest group, such as Bill Reader, Ohio University; Al Cross, University of Kentucky; Barbara Selvin, Stony Brook; and  John Hatcher, University of Minnesota Duluth. Toni Albertson, Mt. San Antonio College, will also share how she has used to empower her college's student newspaper, and Timothy Waltner, retired newspaper publisher, and ISWNE member, will share how the industry is incorporating community in all they do.

Please share this post with anyone you think is interested. The session will take place Wednesday, Aug. 3 from 1 to 5 p.m. It costs $10, but that's just to cover AV needs and a short drink break for everyone at 3 p.m.

Thanks to Toni Albertson and Rich Johnson, COMJ's teaching standards chair for setting this up. If you have any questions, drop them a line at or Let's make sure we have a full house for this important session.

April 25, 2016

Time to nominate rural journalists of courage, integrity and tenacity for Gish Award

Nominations for the Tom and Pat Gish Award for courage, tenacity and integrity in rural journalism, given by the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, must be received by May 10.

Gishes at award announcement, 2004
The award is named for the late Tom and Pat Gish, who published The Mountain Eagle in Whitesburg, Ky., for more than 51 years. They 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, and were the first winners of the award named for them.

Other winners have been the Ezzell family of The Canadian (Tex.) Record, in 2007; James E. Prince III and Stanley Dearman, current and former publishers of The Neshoba Democrat of Philadelphia, Miss., in 2008; Samantha Swindler, editor and publisher of the Headlight Herald in Tillamook, Ore., in 2010 for her work as editor of the Corbin, Ky., Times-Tribune and managing editor of the Jacksonville (Tex.) Daily Progress; in 2011, Stanley Nelson and the Concordia Sentinel of Ferriday, La.; in 2012, Jonathan and Susan Austin of the Yancey County News in Burnsville, N.C.. in 2014, the late Landon Wills of Kentucky's McLean County News; and in 2015, the Trapp family of the Rio Grande Sun in Española, N.M.

The Institute seeks nominations that measure up, at least in major respects, to the records of previous winners, which are detailed at Nominators should send detailed letters to Institute Director Al Cross, explaining how their nominees show the kind of exemplary courage, tenacity and integrity that the Gishes demonstrated in their rigorous pursuit of rural journalism. Detailed documentation does not have to accompany the nomination, but is helpful in choosing finalists, and additional documentation may be requested or required. Questions may be directed to Cross at 859-257-3744 or

Letters should be postmarked by May 7 and mailed to: Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, 122 Grehan Journalism Building, University of Kentucky, Lexington KY 40506-0042, or emailed to by May 10.

April 11, 2016

NNA seeks contest judges this week

The National Newspaper Association, the leading organization of community newspapers in the U.S., is seeking judges for its annual Better Newspaper Contest. It needs to have judges lined up by Thursday, and judging is due by April 29. To sign up and pick categories, go to If you need more information, contact Lynne Lance of NNA at

March 28, 2016

COMJIG revamps call for papers to expand definition of community

Last year, I made an impassioned Buzzfeed style plea for scholars to consider to submitting their papers to the Community Journalism Interest Group for presentation at the annual Association for Journalism and Mass Communication conference.

This year, I thought about just referring you to last year's post, but then I remembered the hard work our leadership group, and especially Research Chair Clay Carey did to revamp our call for papers. I've included the new call below.

Everything from last year still holds true. Our interest group remains the friendliest, most complete and useful reviewing bunch this side of Minneapolis, the site of this year's convention. We also still offer publishing opportunities with our journal Community Journalism and reasonable acceptance rates,

But I think we've done even more to expand the definition of community and examine its intersection with the democratic mission of journalism with this revision. Please give it a read and submit your research to us. We'd love to double last year's number of accepted papers, 8, and feature even more at our top paper session on Saturday, Aug. 6.

If you plan to be in Minneapolis this summer, one other opportunity, I'd strongly ask you to consider as well is our pre-conference workshop, “Putting the ‘Hyper’ Back in Hyperlocal: Teaching Students to Get Excited about and Involved in Community Journalism”. For just $10 (that provides a drink break halfway through) you can learn from some of the top community journalism educators, including Bill Reader, John Hatcher, Al Cross and Toni Albertson, how to get your students excited about providing an important news service for people across this great country.

Thanks and I look forward to reviewing your papers!
COMJIG’s goal is to identify and present original, meaningful research that advances the understanding of the role of journalists and news organizations as members of communities, be they geographic, topical, or digital. Communities are multifaceted, and community as a field of study may be understood in different ways: It may be defined as a geographically bounded place, a group defined by social boundaries, or a collective that exists in the online world. Papers presented in COMJIG’s research sessions reflect the diverse approaches to understanding the ways various types of communities interact with and/or exist through media, and how journalism formats and products cater to those communities. Possible research topics could include the ways community formation affects the process of journalism, how journalists take advantage of community to build audience and/or to improve journalism, or the ways news companies and individual journalists encourage community among readers, listeners, or viewers. The interest group is also interested in research that extends our understanding of “community” in new directions: Papers could address such issues as how community is defined or how its meaning changes in an increasingly digital media environment. All methodologies and theoretical frameworks are welcome. 

December 31, 2015

As S.D. publisher gives up his title, he tells the story of his family and their weekly paper

Tim Waltner
An outstanding weekly newspaper publisher is giving up the title, but not his connection with the newspaper, which his son and daughter-in-law will take over. Tim Waltner's column about the changes at the Freeman, S.D., Courier is a biography of himself, his family and the newspaper, and an exemplary piece of rural journalism, to be expected from a leader and award winner in the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors.

After recounting the twists and turns that took him to Freeman, then away, then back again, Waltner writes, "I could not be happier — for myself, for Jeremy and Stacey, for the Courier and the Freeman community. And I’m pleased I’ll be able to be part of that in these transitional years.

Best Places map
"I have no illusions about my time at the Courier; I know some people still bristle at my politics, reputation as a rebel and willingness to challenge authority. The role of a community journalist — if you’re doing your job — includes sometimes ruffling some feathers. I’m happy to play that role and am fully aware that some people, as there were 46 years ago, will be happy to see me start to step away.

"But I’ve been humbled and gratified by the support and respect shown me over my 40 years with the Freeman Courier. I’m thrilled to give Jeremy and Stacey the same opportunity Glenn Gering gave me four decades ago. My deepest hope is that community residents and leaders will give them — and the Courier — the support and respect they deserve." (Read more)

November 02, 2015

Trapp family of the Rio Grande Sun in Española, N.M. wins Tom and Pat Gish Award for courage, tenacity and integrity in rural journalism

By Casey Parker-Bell
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Two community journalism giants received awards for their service Thursday night and showed their gratitude while focusing on how journalists can improve their craft.

Robert Trapp Jr., publisher of the Rio Grande Sun in Española, N.M., accepted the Tom and Pat Gish Award for courage, integrity and tenacity in rural journalism from the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, publisher of The Rural Blog.

The award was given to the Trapp family, recognizing the work of his parents, Robert and Ruth Trapp, who started the Sun in 1956 with a partner they later bought out. The weekly paper and the elder Trapp have received many awards, and Institute Director Al Cross said the Gish Award for them was overdue.

The award is named for the couple who published The Mountain Eagle in Whitesburg, Ky., for more than 50 years and won national recognition for their courage, integrity and tenacity as they practiced a straightforward style of journalism in the face of opposition from powerful interests.

The Eagle and the Sun have exchanged papers for many years, and members of the Gish family joined Trapp at his table at the Marriott Griffin Gate Resort in Lexington, Ky.

An emotional Trapp was clearly thankful for the award. He explained that his parents had put reporting the truth over advertising dollars, and he pointedly described what he believes will improve journalism at all levels: quality reporting on issues that are important to the community. “That’s what we should be doing,” he said. “Following the stories that affect our communities and trying to improve our communities by doing that.”

In his speech, Trapp called community newspapers “the last bastion of truth in reporting.” Here's a video of the award presentation and his acceptance speech:

Carl West accepts the Al Smith Award
Carl West, former editor of The State Journal in Frankfort, Ky., and founder of the Kentucky Book Fair Committee, accepted the Al Smith Award for public service through community journalism by a Kentuckian. The Institute and the Bluegrass Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists co-sponsor the award.

West also emphasized the importance of newspapers in his speech. “Newspapers, journalism, it’s a community trust. A public trust,” he said. He highlighted how important accuracy and fairness are to journalists, how downsizing is changing newsrooms (including the one where he remains editor emeritus) and how the people running newspapers should view their service to the public.

“Newspapers aren’t a bank. You have to make money to own one and run it. Sure, but you’re not going to get rich,” he said. “If you are going at it that way, you’re in the wrong business.”

West also spoke about the Kentucky Book Fair and how it has helped fund public libraries in small communities with limited financial resources and has touched thousands of book lovers.

The Al Smith Award is named for the co-founder of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, who owned weekly newspapers in Kentucky and Tennessee and was the founding host of KET’s “Comment on Kentucky.” He also spoke at the dinner.

Nominations for next year's awards will be accepted until April 1, 2016.

October 07, 2015

AEJMC-Kettering Initiative approaching

A reminder from Jack Rosenberry that Monday is the deadline for submissions (plus he is looking for reviewers):

The deadline for the call for the special AEJMC Presidential Initiative in partnership with The Kettering Foundation for research on the theme of "Revitalizing the Bonds of Journalism, Citizenship and Democracy" is less than a week away -- Monday Oct. 12.

  Key features of the project are as follows:
·         It's a special invitation co-presented by Kettering and AEJMC for researchers to create and present projects around the topic of how journalism can address problems of democracy by helping foster the process of citizens working together to solve shared public problems. We are looking especially for projects that (1) develop and test a new curriculum, or (2) experiment with a practice innovation in the newsroom or in other media.
·         The formal call is for abstracts that clearly state: The objective of the work and its relevance to the topic; the methods that will be used to examine the question; what the project is expected to discover; and the expected significance of the work.
·         Abstracts should be limited to no more than 1,500 words and the deadline for submitting them is Oct. 12. Submitted abstracts will undergo peer review and up to 20 proposals will be selected for researchers to turn into full papers by April 2016.
·         Top papers as selected by further peer review will be presented at the 2016 AEJMC conference in Minneapolis and also appear in Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly. The very top papers will earn cash awards.
·         Full details on all of this can be found at

We are looking for volunteer reviewers among those who are not planning to submit but would be interested in reviewing abstracts. Anyone interested in that should contact me directly,

SPJ Forms community journalism group

SPJ has formed a community journalism group, led by our own Al Cross.

From the SPJ story:

This community is going to examine issues surrounding journalists in urban, rural and suburban communities, helping community journalists and gain strength from other members. The community journalism community becomes the sixth in SPJ’s community network, and is being led by Al Cross, a former SPJ president and Director of the Institute on Rural Journalism and Community Issues at the University of Kentucky.

October 01, 2015

One paper's circulation drop raises some community journalism questions

I think you might find this post on my Common Sense Journalism blog about the precipitous drop in the circulation of The (Columbia, S.C.) State to be of interest.

At the end, I raise some questions it poses for community journalism in the digital age, especially in smaller and midsized cities.

September 13, 2015

DEADLINE EXTENDED to Oct. 12 for abstracts of papers responding to initiative on journalism, citizenship and democracy

Abstracts are due Oct. 12Sept. 19 in response to AEJMC's call for papers exploring "relationships between journalism education and practice with citizenship, communities and democracy in the digital age." The headline of the call is "Revitalizing the Bonds of Journalism, Citizenship and Democracy."

The call says the reviewers, led by COMJIG member Jack Rosenberry, will be "particularly interested in papers that develop and test a new curriculum, or experiment with a practice innovation in the newsroom or in other media."

The call is a result of an initiative by the Kettering Foundation that convened a select group of journalism educators to discuss how service to democracy can play a larger role in journalism education.

As Jack said in a Sept. 9 message to COMJIG members, the call is "focused on journalism that helps communities to recognize their shared problems and act on them. Our goal is to develop innovative ideas for meaningful changes in journalism education."

Interested scholars are invited to submit, by Sept. 19, abstracts of no more than 1,500 words that clearly state: (1) The objective of the work and its relevance to the topic of how journalism can address problems of democracy by helping foster the process of citizens working together to solve shared public problems; (2) The methods that will be used to examine the question or topic; (3) What the project is expected to discover; and (4) What will be the expected significance of the work.

Abstracts will undergo peer review and up to 20 proposals will be selected for researchers to turn into full papers by April 2016. Top papers as selected by further peer review will be presented at the 2016 AEJMC conference in Minneapolis and also appear in Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly. The very top papers will earn cash awards.

Full details of the research call, including the process for submitting the abstracts, can be found at

August 12, 2015

Funk, Kasko honored with top #communityjournalism paper honors at AEJMC

It was great catching up with everyone at AEJMC again. We had amazing panels, an effective business meeting, and a great social. We also awarded top paper honors to two deserving authors, both of whom have presented papers for the Community Journalism interest group before.

Marcus Funk, from Sam Houston State University, received top faculty paper honors with "Community Journalism: Relentlessly Deviant? CATA of Normative Deviance and Localness in American Community Newspaper Websites."

Dr. Marcus Funk of Sam Houston State University accepts the top Community Journalism Faculty Paper award from Dr. Hans K. Meyer, incoming interest group chair.

Joseph Kasko, who just completed his Ph.D. at the University of South Carolina, received top student papers honors with "Building Community through Branding at NPR Member Stations." This was the second consecutive year that Kasko had the top student paper in the division.

Dr. Joseph Kasko, who just received his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina, accepts the top Community Journalism Student Paper award from Dr. Hans K. Meyer, incoming interest group chair.
You will be able to view their papers soon on the AEJMC 2015 website, but I'm sure you'll see both of them in publication in short time as well. The online journal Community Journalism publishes the top faculty paper in the division each year if the author chooses.

For more news from AEJMC, including a list of new interest group officers, check back here in a couple of days.

August 04, 2015

Bring your panel ideas to the business meeting!

I can't believe the conference starts tomorrow. I'm looking forward to seeing all of you again. We've already posted our line up of panels and presentations here, so I won't add that again, but make sure you check us out. When you learn something great, make sure you share it on social media using the hashtag #communityjournalism. I'm going to put together a Storify after the conference of all the best Tweets and Facebooks posts.
With this message, I wanted to encourage everyone to attend our business meeting on Saturday, 7 p.m. just before the social that our interest group head, Dianne Garyantes, set up. The next day we'll be meeting with other division chairs to talk panels for the next conference. Please come with your ideas on what you'd like to see COMJIG do next year so we go in to that meeting with guns blazing. I think that's why our schedule was so packed with great stuff this year. Everyone was prepared and inspired.
So bring all your ideas, big, small and in between. Think about other divisions or interest groups that would make logical partners. Consider next year's setting -- Minneapolis, MN -- and any logical industry or academic partnerships or visits that make sense.
In addition, if you are also interested in helping us plan next year's conference as part of our board, let me know. We are still looking for a graduate student liaison and we could always use help with our teaching and PF&R panel planning.
Thanks again!
Hans (

July 15, 2015

COMJIG Social in San Francisco!

Please put on your conference calendar the COMJIG social! It will held Saturday, Aug. 8, at 9 p.m. at the Belden Taverna:!dinner/c22ew

Tell them you're with the Community Journalism Interest Group and you should be seated upstairs.

See you there!

July 09, 2015

Panels for 2015 AEJMC conference UPDATED!

Here are the latest updates to our panel schedule. I think we've got some really exciting and information sessions lined up. The pre conference workshop by Penny Abernathy still has spots available. Share this with anyone involved with community journalism.

In addition, if any of you are interested in serving on the COMJIG board next year, please let Hans K. Meyer know at We appreciate your service!

Community Journalism Interest Group panels
AEJMC 2015
San Francisco, CA

Theme Sessions – Wednesday
Wed., August 5, 2015 (Pre-Conference Workshops)
8 a.m. to Noon
Saving Community Journalism:  What Journalism Professors Need to Know About the Business of Local News in the Digital Age
$30 Fee (Participation limited to 40)
Many professors and journalism schools have either established news organizations or partnered with existing broadcast, print and digital outlets in their community to report on local issues or devise new ways to communicate with readers. Many of these start-up organizations are struggling to achieve scale and long-term sustainability, and many traditional outlets, such as newspapers, are struggling to make the transition to digital delivery and profits. 
This workshop is designed to give journalism instructors some basic economic knowledge and understanding of the business dynamics of local news organizations that they can incorporate into introductory and advanced courses. It also provides instructional digital tools and practical examples that will enable their students to go into the field and assist local for-profit and nonprofit news organizations in both creating and implementing new journalistic and business strategies. 
It is led by UNC’s Knight Chair in Journalism and Digital Media Economics, Penny Muse Abernathy (author of Saving Community Journalism: The Path to Profitability and of the instructional website,, and the Knight Chair in Digital Advertising and Marketing, JoAnn Sciarrino. Both have extensive professional experience, operating at the highest executive levels in international media companies, and have focused their research on developing new business models for community news organizations. For information, contact Penny Muse Abernathy at or 919-843-4910. (COMJ, Knight Foundation)

Thursday, August 6, 2015 
2015 AEJMC Conference Program 
3:15 pm to 4:45 pm / 092 
Media Ethics Division and Community Journalism Interest Group PF&R Panel Session: Journalists in Fear: Covering the News Ethically Despite Death Threats, Terrorism, and Dangerous Stories 
Moderating/Presiding: Jenn Burleson Mackay, Virginia Tech 
Panelists: Delphine Halgand, US Director, Reporters Without Borders 
Khalil Bendib, political cartoonist and author of Too Big To Fail: More Subversive Cartoons by American’s Most Dangerous Cartoonist 
Thomas Peele, investigative reporter and author of Killing the Messenger
Tom Kent, Associated Press

Friday, August 7, 2015 
2015 AEJMC Conference Program 
3:15 pm to 4:45 pm
Magazine Division and Community Journalism Interest Group
Research Panel Session: Creation of Community in the Magazine Form: Legacy to Online
Moderating/Presiding: Sheila M. Webb, Western Washington
Panelists: Sheila M. Webb, Western Washington
Elizabeth Hendrickson, Ohio
Amanda Hinnant, Missouri
Dan Kennedy, Northeastern
Michael Clay Carey, Samford

Saturday, August 8, 2015
Refereed Paper Research Session: Scholar-to-Scholar
Community Journalism Interest Group Topic — Community Journalism – High Stakes in the Ever-changing Landscape
Cultivating News Coverage: An Analysis of California Agriculture Reporting Sandra Robinson, California State, Monterey Bay
High Stakes in the High Plains: Attitudes of Rural Editors and Publishers in Areas Facing Depopulation David Guth, Kansas 
Discussant: Dianne Garyantes, Rowan

1:45 pm to 3:15 pm 
Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Community Journalism Interest Groups 
PF&R Panel Session: San Francisco and the Heart of the LGBT Movement 
Moderating/Presiding: Ed Alwood, Quinnipiac 
Panelists: Chris Bull, former Washington Correspondent from the Advocate 
Rink Foto, San Francisco Bay Times 
Andrew Stoner, California State Sacramento 
Cynthia Baird, news editor, Bay Area Reporter

5:15 pm to 6:45 pm 
Community Journalism Interest Group Refereed Paper Research Session: Community Journalism – Looking at the Factors and Forums that Influence Both Journalists and the Communities They Serve Moderating/Presiding: Hans Meyer, Ohio
Community Journalism: Relentlessly Deviant? CATA of Normative Deviance and Localness in American Community Newspaper Websites Marcus Funk, San Houston State 
Advocates, Guardians, and Promoters: Factors that Influence Community Journalists’ Coverage of Rural Poverty Michael Clay Carey, Samford 
Building Community Through Branding at NPR Member Stations Joseph Kasko, South Carolina 
Health News Coverage in Kentucky Newspapers Al Cross, Molly Burchett and Melissa Patrick, Kentucky 
Discussant: David Schreindl, Dickinson State

7 pm to 8:30 pm 
Community Journalism Interest Group Business Session: Members’ Meeting
Moderating/Presiding: Dianne Garyantes, Rowan

Sunday, Aug. 9, 2015
2015 AEJMC Conference Program 
11 am to 12:30 pm 
Cultural and Critical Studies Division and Community Journalism Interest Group PF&R Panel Session: Resistance Journalism: Expression, Self-Empowerment, and the Creation of Counternarratives on Poverty Through Community Media 
Moderating/Presiding: Michael Clay Carey, Samford 
Panelists: Mathew Gerring, editor, Street Sheet 
Lisa Gray-Garcia, POOR Magazine 
Kevin Howley, DePauw 
Paula Lomazzi, CEO, Sacramento Homeless Organizing Committee 
Cindy Vincent, Salem State

July 07, 2015

Reminder: Register for our Preconference on Saving Community Journalism!

It's time for Early Bird Registration for the AEJMC conference in San Fran and a chance to register now for COMJIG's pre-conference on Saving Community Journalism!

COMJIG is proud to sponsor a pre-conference workshop on community journalism and the business of local news on Wednesday, Aug. 5, at the AEJMC conference in San Francisco.

The workshop will be conducted by Penny Muse Abernathy, UNC Knight Chair in Journalism and Digital Media Economics, and a former media executive at the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. She also is the author of "Saving Community Journalism: The Path to Profitability" (UNC Press, 2014).

The workshop begins at 8 a.m. and runs until noon. The pre-conference also is being sponsored by the Knight Foundation. For more information about the workshop and its content, please check out this blog:

Register now for this important event!

June 25, 2015

Community Journalism in Charleston, S.C.

The New York Times ran an interesting article yesterday about how the local newspaper in Charleston, S.C., The Post and Courier, covered the church shootings last week. Here's the link:

June 11, 2015

Register now for COMJIG's pre-conference on Saving Community Journalism

COMJIG is proud to sponsor a pre-conference workshop on community journalism and the business of local news on Wednesday, Aug. 5, at the AEJMC conference in San Francisco.

The workshop will be conducted by Penny Muse Abernathy, UNC Knight Chair in Journalism and Digital Media Economics, and a former media executive at the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. She also is the author of "Saving Community Journalism: The Path to Profitability" (UNC Press, 2014).

The workshop begins at 8 a.m. and runs until noon. The pre-conference also is being sponsored by the Knight Foundation. For more information about the workshop and its content, please check out this blog:

Register now for this important event!

April 30, 2015

AEJMC Preview: Street newspapers as outlets for new narratives on what it means to be 'poor'

It isn’t too early to start talking about AEJMC programming, is it?

With the national conference a short summer away, I thought I’d offer a bit of information on one of the panels the Community Journalism Interest Group is bringing to San Francisco.

COMJ is co-sponsoring a PF&R panel entitled “Resistance Journalism: Expression, Self-Empowerment, and the Creation of Counternarratives on Poverty Through Community Media.”

Here’s the formal panel description: 

Millions of people in the U.S. struggle with financial need and homelessness. However, news and entertainment media often ignore the lived experiences of those living in extreme poverty or cast them in condescending stereotypes that reinforce dominant ideologies about what it means to be poor, in the process reinforcing and worsening social stratification.

During this panel, scholars and activists will discuss the ways “street newspapers” and similar publications produced by the poor, who are often ignored or marginalized by mainstream media, empower writers to create their own counternarratives about poverty and advocate for change. Street newspapers, also sometimes called homeless newspapers, are urban newspapers generally written and distributed by current or former homeless individuals. 

Panelists include:

  • Lisa "Tiny" Gray-Garcia, founder of POOR Magazine, a poor people/indigenous people-led grassroots organization developed to provide media access to and advocate for people in poverty.
  • Bob Offer-Westort, editor of Street Sheet.
  • Paula Lomazzi, CEO of the Sacramento Homeless Organizing Committee. The committee publishes a street newspaper called the Homeward Street Journal.
  • Dr. Cindy Vincent, assistant professor at Salem State University. Dr. Vincent’s research focuses on representations of class in the media and the role of participatory media in civic engagement and social justice.
Your humble blog post author will be the panel moderator.

I hope you will be able to join us for this interesting and important panel discussion, which is co-sponsored by COMJ and the Cultural/Critical Studies Division.

Panel Date: Sunday, Aug. 9

Panel Time:  11 a.m.

April 16, 2015

Al Jazeera America suspects it may have found America’s smallest two-paper town

Al Jazeera America paints an interesting picture this week of the media landscape in Crawfordsville, Ind., population 15,000.

Crawfordsville is home to two daily newspapers, the Journal Review and The Paper. Al Jazeera America writer Kevin Williams speculates in the article that Crawfordsville might be the smallest U.S. town with competing daily newspapers. Data on the number of two-paper towns is hard to come by, Williams writes. He interviewed media business analyst Rick Edmonds, who said Crawfordsville “sounds like a good bet” to be the smallest.

Journalists quoted in the story make great observations about the value of local ownership and editorial control. They also stress the importance of documenting daily life in their communities. Jack Lule, chair at Lehigh University’s Weinstock Center for Journalism, makes this point in the article:

Two-newspaper towns survive for a good reason: despite all the possibilities of digital media, local coverage still is handled best by local newspapers. People have all sorts of access to news on Washington politics, the latest airline disaster, Mideast tensions and other national and international stories. But local politics, obituaries, sports, concerts, street closings and news stories on that level still are reported only by the local newspaper. 

Is Crawfordsville really is the smallest town in the U.S. with two daily newspapers? I don’t know of any smaller towns with two dailies, although there are many rural communities with competing weekly publications. Oneida, Tenn., population 5,000, has two strong weekly newspapers.

I’d love to hear from you, blog readers. Do you know of any smaller towns with competing daily newspapers?

April 11, 2015

Vermont weekly celebrates 300th edition with stories about community journalism

The Brattleboro Commons, a weekly newspaper in Vermont, is celebrating its 300th issue by "shining the spotlight on community journalism — and especially its future. Our staff and a number of other media professionals with ties to the Windham County region reflect on these issues and help us celebrate a milestone." Here are some of the stories:
When business principles are turned upside down: Jeff Potter writes, "The small newspapers I worked for were founded not to make money but to fill a need — and the bond they had with their readers was amazing."
• Randolph T. Holhut is a Refugee from a corporate news career: "We would have to do more and more with less and less, with no possibility of improvement," he writes. "No newspaper ever got better by giving its readers less. No newspaper ever cut its way to prosperity."
Writing close to home:  Evan Johnson writes, "I’ve learned the craft of journalism while living in a place I know more intimately than anywhere else."

March 30, 2015

6 reasons to submit your research to the Community Journalism Interest Group. You won't believe No. 5!

I thought I'd have a bit of fun with tthis post encouraging everyone to consider submitting to our interest group for the 2015 AEJMC conference. I hope it got your attention. I also think an Unworthy-style listicle fits our goals as an interest group because anyone using conversational headlines is relying on the principles of community to bring people together, and that's what COMJIG is all about.
Remember the deadline for papers is Wednesday, April 1 at 11:59 p.m. Central time. All papers are submitted through the submission site. Check out the AEJMC Uniform Paper Call to see what individual division/interest groups are looking for (by clicking on the link above and scrolling to the bottom of the page), but we hope that you consider COMJIG.
Without further ado, here are six reasons to consider COMJIG.
  1. Feedback: As research chair last year, I was able to secure three reviews for almost every paper pretty easily. I know this year we've already got a good stable of reviewers lined up so you can expect reviews you can use.
  2. Attention: As a small division, we know most of the people who submit papers, and if we don't know you, we will. We might even ask you to join the board as we did with our top student author last year. Don't be intimidated by that, however, because we're a friendly group of scholars interested in our members' success. I can attest to the feedback group members gave me as I applied for tenure this year.
  3. Acceptance: We all want our papers accepted. To be honest, all divisions and interest groups strive for that magic 50 % number. But I can tell you, again from my experience last year, that we had a bit of leeway in going over that number a bit to make sure that all the highly reviewed papers we received got presented. It made my job easier knowing I didn't have to turn down a really good paper just to hit an arbitrary number.
  4. Publication: Each of our top student and faculty papers are considered for our affiliated journal, Community Journalism. The online, open access journal just published its third edition. Check it out!
  5. Definition: Don't think anymore that community journalism is just about small newspapers. In fact, we have made a conscious effort the last two years to educate AEJMC members that we are looking for any research that explores the definition, creation and cultivation of community through news, whether that community is organized geographically or by a topic of interest, whether it meets face to face or entirely online. This concept is something that our members have decided to become experts in. In line with No. 2 above, we want to help you expand this definition so everyone -- researchers, professionals, journalists -- can understand how to strengthen and build communities through factual, fair, and balanced information.
  6. Community: I know it seems redundant, but COMJIG is more than a bunch of scholars just researching the same topic. We are trying to live up to our name by building and sustaining a group of scholars with something important to share. Even if you don't submit to COMJIG this year, we'd love to see you at our business meeting Saturday, Aug. 8 at 7 p.m.
Thanks for reading! You can contact our research chair David Schriendl with any questions about submitting a paper or our chair Dianne Garyantes or me, Hans Meyer, vice chair, with any questions about the Community Journalism Interest Group.