March 23, 2015

Check it Out...

COMJIG member Barbara Selvin's article has just been posted by Nieman Reports: Local Weeklies Are Covering the Communities Big Dailies Ignore
It's a great read. Thanks, Barbara!

March 18, 2015

It's nice to see community papers being recognized for the hard work they do. We need lots of these stories to hit the digital highway in order to reinforce the idea that community papers can still thrive and make a difference.
For those who are willing to review a few papers and haven’t signed up yet please accept my sincere thanks as well. Follow the following link and register today.

The deadline for paper submissions is April 1 and the deadline for finished reviews is April 30. I’d appreciate if papers were reviewed a few days prior to the April 30 deadline so that I can get out acceptance and rejection notices out to the submitters prior to May 1st.

March 17, 2015

Interesting Report

Here's an interesting report by the FCC about the information needs of communities:

March 13, 2015

2015 Panel Schedule set!

I know it's early, but I just wanted to share with everyone our panel schedule for this summer's AEJMC conference because I think we've got a fantastic slate.

Here it is:

Wednesday, Aug. 5
Pre-Conference workshop, 8 – noon
“Saving Community Journalism:  What Journalism Professors Need to Know About the Business of Local News in the Digital Age”
Penny Abernathy

Thursday, Aug. 6
3:15-4:45 p.m. Ethics / Community Journalism 034 PF&R
“Journalists in Fear:  Maintaining ethical coverage in a dangerous media climate”

Friday, Aug. 7
3:15-4:45 p.m. Magazine / Community Journalism 110 Research
“Creation of Community in the Magazine Form: Legacy to Online”

Saturday, Aug. 8
1:45-3:15 p.m. GLBT / Community Journalism 157 PF&R
“San Francisco and the heart of the LGBT movement”
Need 2 panelists
5:15 – 6:45 p.m. Refereed Paper
7 – 8:30 p.m. Members’ Meeting

Sunday, Aug. 9
11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. CCSD, Community Journalism 119 PF&R
Resistance Journalism: Expression, Self-Empowerment, and the Creation of Counternarratives on Poverty Through Community Media

Some of our confirmed panelists include Dan Kennedy, author of The Wired City; Chris Bull, former Washington correspondent of The Advocate; Gary or Reed Shilts, brother representing Randy Shilts (1951-1994), reporter for the advocate and San Francisco Chronicle and author of And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic (1980–85); Dr. Betty Sullivan and Jennifer Viegas, co-editors/publishers of the San Francisco Bay Times; and Anthony G. Rodriguez, founder and CEO of

I'm sure I'm missing others that our members have lined up. I'll get the final panel copy from our cosponsors on Monday.

Depending on how many paper submissions we receive, we will also be part of the poster session on Saturday from 12:15 - 1:30 p.m. We accepted eight papers last year, and I expect we'll surpass that number this year.

To do that, make sure you are sharing our call for papers with your peers and students. In addition, sign up on the conference website and let our research chair David Schreindl know that you'd be willing to serve as a paper reviewer. I served as research chair last year, and I can honestly say it wasn't difficult because our members were so willing to serve and easy to work with. Every paper had at least two reviews. Most had three.

If you have any questions, please drop me a line

February 10, 2015

COMJIG is looking for paper reviewers

Dear COMJIG friends:

It’s that time again: the AEJMC submission deadline is coming soon and we here at COMJIG are preparing to facilitate the review process. 

If you have reviewed for us in the past—we can’t THANK YOU enough for your dedication to COMJIG and if you would be willing to be a first time reviewer we would be grateful. And huge thanks in advance for what I’m sure will be amazing reviews again this year. We will most likely assign only three papers to you. We know that this is a major undertaking, and we appreciate your willingness to continue to judge papers. 

You should go now to the All-Academic site through the AEJMC website or to this address and create an account (username and password) in the All-Academic System.  Go to the right side of the page and scroll down until you come to “Click here to create new username and password.”

If possible, please create your account by Friday, March 13, 2015.  This will allow for assignments of papers to proceed quickly and ensure you have immediate access to your assigned papers to judge soon after the All-Academic system closes for paper uploading. Each year is unique, and if you created an account last year, you will need to do so again this year.

Creating your user name and password now will also allow you to submit, judge and download papers all from the same created account.  

Thank you for assisting the Community Journalism Interest Group of AEJMC.  Your input is invaluable.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.  We look forward to working with you this year.


David Schreindl
COMJIG Research Chair

February 02, 2015

Chinese, U.S. community newspaper people find common ground at seminar

By Al Cross and Ginny Whitehouse

Community newspaper people from China and the United States found common ground, despite great differences in their environments, at the Second Sino-U.S. Community Media Seminar in Kentucky Jan. 8 and 9.

Presentations and discussions revealed that Chinese community papers share with their Kentucky counterparts the desire to tell stories of local people in the face of dramatic economic challenges, and a commitment to serve their communities.

“Community journalism requires a commitment to the people and the place,” said Bill Horner, publisher of Paxton Media Group’s Sanford (N.C.) Herald, who attended the first such seminar, in Shanghai in 2013.

“I have seen a sense of commitment to that among community journalists in China,” Horner said, and seeing that helps American journalists “rediscover our own sense of commitment.”

The seminar was sponsored by the XinMin Evening News, Shanghai’s largest afternoon newspaper and publisher of many community editions; and the Confucius Institute and the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues at the University of Kentucky.

It brought from China 10 newspaper executives and journalists, six local-government officials and a Shanghai University professor, You You. She was the Institute’s visiting scholar in 2012-13 and was instrumental in arranging the seminar. It also attracted 25 U.S. newspaper executives, UK faculty and academics at other universities who are among the Institute’s academic partners.

The day before the seminar, the Chinese and a few of the Americans visited the Lexington Herald-Leader and the Danville Advocate-Messenger to learn more about U.S. community newspapers.

The two days were a boost for Bian Haolan, editor-in-chief of the Bao’an Daily News, a 100,000-circulation community paper in Shenzen, next to Hong Kong. In the seminar discussions, through a translator, he noted a sharp decline in Chinese newspaper advertising in the last three years, but said his main takeaway from the seminar is a belief that traditional newspapers are here to stay.

Zhu Qi, associate town-chief of Chonggu in Shanghai, told the group that she was deeply impressed by the commitment to community that she saw in Danville and Lexington. “We are in the pioneer stage of community journalism,” she said. “Our intention is to record the lives of the down-to-earth people who make up China’s development.”

Most community newspapers in China are published in cooperation with local governments, who see them as vehicles for official messaging and tools to create a greater sense of community at a time when Shanghai’s communities are flooded with immigrants from rural areas and the city’s population has exploded to 23 million.

In China, communities are purely administrative and geographic, You You said in her seminar presentation. “In Shanghai, there is a strong feeling of city but no sense of community.”

Jin Fei, assistant editor-in-chief of the XinMin Evening News’ community editions, said her staff has learned how to work within the government framework while always facing the dilemma of whether “to serve the readers or serve the government. . . . The approach we take is to encourage local government to make government affairs public and open.”

She said the government supports the paper’s efforts to monitor its work: The paper publishes the government’s annual plan of work, and reports on how much of it has been accomplished.

Dr. Zixue Tai, a professor in UK's School of Journalism and Telecommunications, said Americans should see community newspapers as some Chinese see them: what sociologists call a “third place” – informal, public gathering spaces outside home and work that contribute to civil society and democracy.

“The third place today can be realized mainly by community newspapers,” said Tai, a native of China. “We have a lot of common ground” in community journalism. “We don’t care about foreign policy.”

Al Cross is director of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues at UK; Dr. Ginny Whitehouse is an associate professor of journalism at Eastern Kentucky University.

Eric Newhouse provides some great insight into community journalism

Recently, current and former AP staffers were asked to weigh in on Connecting, the internal newsletter published by retiree Paul Stevens, on all the various issues surrounding the Charlie Hebdo story, issues of publishing material that might offend someone or a group, etc.

Eric Newhouse, a former AP bureau chief, provided these thoughts that turn out not so much to be about Charlie Hebdo as about community journalism and the reality of being a community journalist.

With Eric's and Paul's permission, I am sharing them here:

Eric Newhouse (Email) - Re Charlie H., just because you have a right doesn't mean you have to exercise it all the time, particularly if you know it will offend or hurt others.

I learned that lesson in my post-AP life as projects editor of the Great Falls (Mont.) Tribune. We had committed ourselves to do a 12-part series of stories exploring alcohol abuse in Montana, at least one major package of stories each month for the calendar year 1999. By late February or early March, I was working on a package about how one alcoholic makes the whole family sick, which was to run in April, and the group leader of a local Al-Anon group invited me to sit in on a session.

So I showed up, notebook in hand, and was introduced by name. To make the point clearer, I added that I was a reporter working on a series of stories about alcoholism. No one voiced an objection, so I openly took notes as the meeting progressed.

But after the meeting, a group of women approached to tell me that an Al-Anon tradition requires that what is said in the room stays in the room. They asked me to leave my notebook on the table.

Knowing that by identifying myself as a working reporter without protest, I had a perfect right to report what was said in an open meeting. So I challenged them, asking why and asking how they intended to compensate me for the time that would have been wasted if I left the notebook behind. 

"Give us a moment to talk," their ringleader said.

When they returned, they explained that the tradition was designed to let group members talk honestly without repercussions, and they said they'd be willing to sit around a picnic table with me and tell their stories again in a way that would be more politically correct. "We've all been the victims of alcohol, and we don't want to victimize others," one of the women told me.

That did it for me. I left the notebook on the table, joined them on a park bench outside, and found the new stories were just as compelling as the previous one, although they omitted certain names and details.

The stories ran without incident, but when I began working on the June package, which was how alcohol fuels domestic violence, the wife brought up the Al-Anon encounter and asked how I had resolved it. I told her that I'd left the notebook on the table and that I'd interviewed the women outside the Al-Anon meeting room.

"Just checking," she told me. "Because if you'd screwed our friends over, no one in the alcohol community here would have been willing to speak with you."

My skin crawled when I heard that because I knew that would have been the kiss of death for our 12-part series. Instead the alcohol community supported me, offered tremendous help and encouragement, and celebrated with us when the series won the Pulitzer Prize in 2000 for explanatory reporting.

Incidentally, if anyone is interested in reading that series, I expanded it into a book, Alcohol: Cradle to Grave." Drop a check for $18 into an envelope, send it to me at 141 Rosetta Lane, Charleston WV 25311, and I'll ship you a copy of the book.

Digital Communities and How to Build Them

Here's an article discussing how to build digital communities as one strategy to sustain news organizations:

Why Journalism Needs to Build With the Community, Not for It
What are your thoughts? We'd like to know!

January 10, 2015

November 06, 2014

St. Louis American takes a strong stand on Ferguson

When The Washington Post wanted local perspective on the publication of leaked reports from the autopsy of Michael Brown, the 18-year-old shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo., they turned to community newspaper editor Chris King.

King is managing editor of The St. Louis American, the largest weekly newspaper in Missouri and one of the best African-American newspapers in the U.S. Over the last two weeks, he has been an outspoken critic of the Post and The New York Times, both of which published the autopsy leaks in late October. The leaks seem to suggest that Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot and killed Brown in August, will not face criminal charges. The protests and riots touched off by Brown’s shooting have received international media attention.

King told the Los Angeles Times a law enforcement source had offered him the autopsy reports, but he decided not to run them. In the Post article, King was quoted as saying he suspected the publication of the leaks could touch off more violence on the streets of Ferguson, an idea that was echoed in an American editorial the same week. That editorial read, in part:

The Times and Post ran with this anonymous third-party hearsay regarding a high-stakes case that has our entire region on edge. Tensions are so high that preparations for riots, if Wilson walks free, are discussed in sober terms in local and national media and on street corners. The editors of these powerful publications have shown a lapse in judgment and ethics that is not only shameful, but actually dangerous.

This week the American covered  protesters upset with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s publication of the leaked autopsy details.

Aggressive reporting and public commentary on matters such as the leaked autopsy reports are nothing new for the American. The newspaper has provided pointed, comprehensive coverage of the social unrest in Ferguson, Mo., since Brown’s shooting.

October 16, 2014

Call for Papers: AEJMC Midwinter Conference 2015

AEJMC Midwinter Conference 2015, March 6-7, 2015
Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Oklahoma

General Call for Paper Abstracts and Panel Proposals
The AEJMC Midwinter Conference is an annual forum for the presentation of research and debate in areas relevant to the 10 AEJMC groups (divisions, interest groups and commissions) sponsoring the event. The conference provides a platform for presentations and extended discussions in a relaxed setting.

The upcoming conference is scheduled for March 6-7, 2015 at the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication (University of Oklahoma) in Norman, Oklahoma. Conference participants will be able to enjoy the College’s state-of-the-art teaching and research facilities, as well as many winter diversions outside the conference activities, including world-class museums and art galleries.
Paper abstract submissions: Authors are invited to submit research paper abstracts of between 600 and 800 words (word count excludes author information and references). Abstracts should give a clear sense of relevant literature, research objectives, methodological approach, stage of research project (conceptual, data gathering, data interpreting), findings and conclusions.

Submissions should be made by e-mail to the midwinter chair (from the list below) of the group authors wish to submit to. Note that authors can submit any specific paper abstract to only one participating group – submitting the same paper abstract to several groups will result in disqualification and withdrawal from the review process. Do not submit full papers.

Authors of accepted papers will be notified by mid-January 2015. Papers presented at the midwinter conference are also eligible for presentation at the AEJMC national convention in August. Authors are encouraged to use the midwinter conference as an opportunity to get feedback on their research to improve and finalize it for submission to the national conference.

Authors of accepted abstracts must submit complete papers (not exceeding 30 pages) to the discussant of their conference session at least two weeks before the midwinter conference. The midwinter chair for the relevant group will send authors the names and contact details of the discussant for their session.At least one author of each accepted paper must register and attend the conference to present the paper. Failure to register by the deadline will result in authors’ names and papers being removed from the program. NO onsite registration will be available.

Panel submissions: In addition, the organizers are also inviting panel proposals. These proposals should be sent to the midwinter chair of the particular division or group they wish to present the panel to. Panel submissions should include the panel title, a description of the session’s focus, the issues to be discussed, and a list of panelists (potential and confirmed), including affiliation. Panel proposals should not exceed two double-spaced pages.

Submission format: All submissions (for paper abstracts and panels) should include the name(s) of the author(s) or panel organizer(s) on the title page only. The title page should also include the author or lead author’s (or organizer’s) mailing address, telephone number and e-mail address. The title should be on the first page of the text and on running heads on each page of text. Authors should e-mail their abstracts or proposals as attachments (saved with the author’s last name as file name) in a standard word-processing format (preferably Word or RTF) to the relevant midwinter chair. Authors must ensure that they remove any identifying information from their document (with the exception of the title page).

Deadline: All submissions should reach the appropriate group’s midwinter chair by noon, December 1, 2014.

The University of Oklahoma is located in Norman, 20 miles south of Oklahoma City, with easy access to the Will Rogers World Airport. Details on conference registration, hotel accommodation and airport transportation will be available at

For more information, please contact Elanie Steyn, Conference Site Host (

AEJMC 2015 Midwinter Chairs

Communication Technology Division
Jessica E. Smith (

Commission on the Status of Women
Candi Carter Olson (

Cultural and Critical Studies Division
Madeleine Esch (

Entertainment Studies Interest Group
Amy Carwile (

International Communication Division
Ammina Kothari (

Mass Communication & Society Division
Jay Hmielowski ( Kelly Kaufhold (

Media Management and Economics Division 
Charlene Simmons (

Minorities and Communication Division
Riva Brown (

Participatory Journalism Interest Group (PJIG)
Anne Hoag (

Visual Communication Division
Matt Haught (

September 01, 2014

New archive for The Convergence Newsletter

Many COMJIG members have had work published in The Convergence Newsletter. With the move of our servers, links may break.

The new permanent link to the archives is

August 16, 2014

COMJIG minutes 2014

Here are the draft minutes from our meeting in Montreal. They will not become final until next year's meeting in San Francisco. Please let me know of any corrections.
- Doug

Minutes, Community Journalism Interest Group
Aug. 8, 2014

Convened 7 p.m.
Dianne Garyantes, vice head/programming called the meeting to order in place of IG head Eileen Gilligan, who could not attend because of health issues. A total of 13 people, including officers and guests, attended.

Minutes 2013
These were discussed. A suggestion was made to ask Barbara Selvin to do a post on the COMJIG blog about her experience at the ISWNE meeting.

A correction was suggested: page 2, "future sites," line 3 change to "in Santiago, Chile."

Moved and seconded the minutes be approved as corrected. Passed unanimously on show of hands.

Garyantes asked whether we should consider raising yearly dues from the current $10. Apparently AEJMC was asking groups to pose the question. After some discussion there was no motion to change the current levels.

As of July 31, 2014, COMJIG had a credit of $1,664.67 in AEJMC's accounting.

Garyantes reported membership at 86, a slight increase from last year. There should be better numbers by Sept. 30 once AEJMC goes through conference registrations.

Research chair Hans Meyer reported we received 15 papers and eight were accepted, for just over a 50% rate. He says there were nine really good papers, but it was decided to accept only eight to keep the acceptance rate near 50%. There were 17 reviewers, and each paper got at least two reviews.

Awards were presented for the top faculty and student papers. Checks and plaques were not immediately available but will be forwarded to the recipients, Patrick Ferrucci of Bradley for the top faculty paper and Joseph Kasko of South Carolina for top student paper. Each received a certificate at the meeting.

Community Journalism journal
Garyantes reported Vol. 3 of the journal came out today. Note the special call (also posted on our blog) for papers on international perspectives on community journalism. Sept. 2 deadline and March 15 publication. Will be published both in Community Journalism and Grassroots Editor.

Next year
Garyantes said the theme of the meeting in San Francisco, Aug. 5-9, will be "Global Bridges." So think in those terms for panels and papers.

Need to think about panels early – we'll put out a call with a Sept. 30 deadline because AEJMC will want our thoughts by mid-October. Look for panels that can be attractive to other divisions or IGs.

A discussion ensued about several panel possibilities. Those include tools for community journalism, community journalism internships and their challenges both in getting students interested and then getting them ready, and a PF&R panel on homeless/street papers since San Francisco is home to the oldest such paper (noted by audience member). Individuals will hopefully pursue such initiatives in time for the call.

Southeast Colloquium
Garyantes and Meyer noted it will be in in late March with an early December submission. We were unable to participate last year. A discussion ensued and it was the general consensus that we want to participate in 2015 because it is a fertile ground for getting graduate students interested in our IG. The colloquium will be at Tennessee-Knoxville, and several people volunteered to represent COMJIG, as it is within easy driving distance.

The new research chair will need to pursue.

David Gordon said it would be June 24-28 at Missouri-Columbia. He said he expects a scholarship to be available. There was discussion. We will put it on the blog and listserv seeking someone to attend. Will need to know by February or March.

Update from Council of Divisions
Garyantes said the council reminded everyone of the regional conference planned for Santiago, Chile, Oct. 15-17, 2015, and National News Engagement Day this coming Oct. 7. The COD hopes everyone will be involved.

Other discussions
Meyer suggested that when possible we consider using #communityjournalism in tweets. He said it is used more widely than just #comjig and by other groups, so it may widen our brand.

Garyantes called on Doug Fisher to discuss some suggestions he had circulated among the officers. Fisher noted there are many times to promote COMJIG as a home for research, especially among grad students. For instance, while doing Job Hub interviews, he has noticed several candidates with work fitting nicely into our research agenda. Many did not know of COMJIG. Their eyes lit up when he noted the number of papers we get compared with, say, Mass Comm and Society. He asked all COMJIG members to be alert to these opportunities because "community" is showing in a lot more research and solid research submission numbers make our renewal efforts easier.

Officers 2014-15T
he following slate of officers was proposed:
Dianne Garyantes, Rowan, head
Hans Meyer, Ohio, vice head/programming
David Schreindl, Dickinson State, research chair
Clay Carey, Samford, professional freedom & responsibility (PF&R) chair
Al Cross, Kentucky, teaching standards chair
Doug Fisher, South Carolina, secretary/membership/communications
Joseph Kasko, South Carolina, graduate student liaison

There were no further nominations from the floor. The slate of officers was moved and seconded, and it was approved unanimously on a show of hands.

Talk by Penny Abernathy
Abernathy, author of Saving Community Journalism: The Path to Profitability and the website, presented a summation of her research and book and some of the ways community news outlets must change to be successful in the digital age.

She said the website has a special section with teaching tools for professors and that a case study from her work has been made available for free on Columbia University's journalism case studies site.

Adjourned 8:40 p.m. and members retired to COMJIG's off-site social.

Respectfully submitted,

Douglas J. Fisher
Aug. 8, 2014

August 09, 2014

New COMJIG officers

Your COMJIG officers for 2014-15:

Dianne Garyantes, Rowan, head
Hans Meyer, Ohio, vice head/programming
David Schreindl, Dickinson State, research chair
Clay Carey, Samford, professional freedom & responsibility (PF&R) chair
Al Cross, Kentucky, teaching standards chair
Doug Fisher, South Carolina, secretary/membership/communications
Joseph Kasko, South Carolina, graduate student liaison

July 29, 2014

COMJIG Activities in Montreal

I hope you’re all looking forward to our conference next week in Montreal.  The Community Journalism Interest Group has put together a great program for the conference. We’re looking forward to seeing you!

First, our business meeting will be held on Friday, Aug. 8, from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. We need nominees for two positions:
- Research Chair
- Graduate Student Liaison
Please consider putting your name forward to be part of the Interest Group. We’ll vote on a new slate of officers, learn about Interest Group’s activities for the past year and its plans for the coming year. 
The official business meeting will be followed by a talk by Penny Abernathy, Knight Chair in Journalism and Digital Media Economics, UNC-Chapel Hill, and author of the book, “Saving Community Journalism: The Path to Profitability.” Here’s a link to the book’s website:
The night’s not over yet! Professor Abernathy’s talk will be followed by a COMJIG social starting at 8:45 p.m. at Universel Déjeuners et Grillades, 2055 Peel, Montreal The place serves crepes and is just a few minutes walk from our hotel.
In addition, COMJIG is co-sponsoring a pre-conference workshop, “The Journalism Educator’s Role in the Future of Education,” on Tuesday, Aug. 5, from 2 pm to 7 pm. Please note there is a $40.00 U.S. charge for the workshop. The workshop will be moderated by Geanne Perlman Rosenberg, Baruch-CUNY, and will explore the following topics: 
- Thinking Outside the Box: The Journalism Educator’s Potential Role Beyond Majors
- News Literacy and Journalism Education for Non-Majors from Grade School on Up:
- Expanding Impact:  Challenges and Opportunities
The Community Journalism Interest Group also is sponsoring and/or co-sponsoring several interesting panels during the conference, including:
• COMJIG Celebrates Its 10th Year with AEJMC: What Will the Next 10 Years Look Like for Community Journalism? Refereed Research Session, Saturday, August 9, 9:15 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.    
• First Nation Media in North America, Sat., Aug. 9, 11 a.m. –  12:30 p.m.
• Defining Emergent Journalistic Behaviors, Wed., Aug. 6, 5:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. 
• Ethnic Media in North America: Political Rights and Community Participation, Thurs., Aug. 7, 8:15 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.
• Scholar-to-Scholar Refereed Paper Research Session, Thurs., Aug. 2, 1:30 pm - 3 pm
• Hyperlocal Journalism on Both Sides of the Border: A Canada-U.S. Perspective, Friday, Aug. 8, 1:45 p.m. – 3:15 p.m. 
• Preparing Journalism Students for a Globalized World, Friday, Aug. 8, 5:15 p.m. – 6:45 p.m.

Some of our members also will be presenting on a panel sponsored by the Internships & Careers Interest Group, “Preparing Students for Community Journalism,” Thurs., Aug. 7, 8:15 a.m. – 9:45 a.m. 

We hope to see you at all of these events. In the meantime, please feel free to get in touch with any questions or comments about the events or the group’s activities. I can be reached at Thanks and I look forward to meeting you in Montreal!

July 14, 2014

Call for papers: International perspectives on community journalism

Special, joint issue call for papers: Community Journalism and Grassroots Editor
Submission deadline: September 2, 2014 (extended abstracts);
December 15, 2014 (full manuscript); March 2015 (publication)
Guest editor:
John Hatcher of the University of Minnesota Duluth
Overview: This special, joint issue, titled “International Perspectives on Community Journalism,” will attempt to unite top scholars in the field of community journalism in an exploration of this growing and exciting area of research. This issue also will solicit articles from leading community journalists from across the globe who will offer their own analyses of the state of community journalism.
·      Grassroots Editor, the journal of the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors, was first published in January of 1960.
·      Community Journalism, first published in 2012, is the online, peer-reviewed journal based at Texas Christian University that is the official journal of the Community Journalism Interest Group (Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication).
Peer-reviewed articles: This special issue will explore the nature of community journalism on a global scale. We seek mostly empirical work, though we welcome methodologies of all types (including well-reasoned theoretical pieces). We invite manuscripts that discuss community journalism at both the country level and in comparative, multi-country analyses.
Essays from the field: Community journalists who are members of the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors are encouraged to submit pieces that offer a perspective on community journalism in their country. Ideally, these pieces will include some original reporting and look beyond the case of one newspaper or news organization.
For both peer-reviewed articles and essays from professionals, articles that broach the following kinds of topics are encouraged:
·      Does the concept of community journalism have the same meaning regardless of the cultural setting?
·      What role does community journalism play in providing a voice to communities historically overlooked by larger publications?
·      Does print journalism remain a vital medium in some countries and for some communities? Why/why not?
·      What is the historical context that defines community journalism in a given country?

Submission instructions/deadlines: Peer-reviewed articles should be no more than 8,000 words in length, excluding references etc. Please submit an extended abstract (750 words or less) and 2-3 suggested reviewers no later than September 2, 2014, to Abstracts should outline the proposed research and give a sense of the theoretical approach, method and timeline for completion. Full manuscripts are due December 15, 2014 (also to, when they will be peer-reviewed and considered for acceptance by members of the editorial board of Community Journalism. The scheduled date of publication is March 2015. The journal will be available online and will be printed thanks to the support of ISWNE. Please contact John Hatcher at with questions. Manuscripts should conform to the guidelines for Community Journalism (

July 11, 2014

RIP: John Seigenthaler, who appreciated courageous community journalists

John Seigenthaler
John Seigenthaler, who died today at his home in Nashville, was not a community journalist, at least in the traditional sense. But he was an exemplary and inspiring journalist, and he appreciated the contributions and sacrifices of rural and community journalists to the profession he loved and to the cause of open government, for which he crusaded.

In helping present the Tom and Pat Gish Award to the Ezzell family of The Canadian (Tex.) Record in 2007, Seigenthaler said, "I have never been among friends, among journalists, when I have felt more deeply touched by the emotion of being in the presence of people who have . . . committed their lives to tenacity, courage and integrity," the criteria for the award, given by the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues.

"Weekly journalism is what this country was about at the beginning. Weekly publishers were people of courage, of integrity, and tenacity stood against authority, stood against community evils, against national evils, international problems, took strong positions, and that’s our legacy. That’s MY legacy, and I never worked for a weekly. . . . One place young journalists should be looking for employment, for jobs where there is confidence about a future, is in rural America, where I find less concern about the future than in daily journalism. . . .

 "It’s much easier for me, as a daily editor in a major city. There is much less danger of threat, much more chance that I have lawyers to protect me. There is much less likelihood that somebody will explode a bomb beneath my window of shoot into my plate-glass window or burn down our building, than for those who are in rural communities. And when I say I hope I have shown tenacity and courage and integrity, I can’t think of anything in my career that matches what must be those lonely days and nights when a lawsuit is threatened or danger is threatened, when life is threatened, in a rural community."

Seigenthaler concluded, "I think the tradition, the legacy, is best reflected today in rural journalism." For more of his remarks, click here. For his obituary, tributes and funeral information from The Tennessean, go here.

June 12, 2014

Saving Community Journalism at UNC

A good look at the University of North Carolina's program to help community news orgs move into the digital age:

May 16, 2014

Feeding the goat: Why smaller newsrooms aren't using digital tools

This is an important report from Duke's newsroom project (with a catchy title).

The report confirms what I have found: Too often smaller newsrooms are ignoring digital tools that are free or low cost and could help them do a better job.

We ride the hamster wheel because we want to, not because we have to.

Related: NY Times report raises alarms about newsroom's digital future.

May 08, 2014

Readers more loyal to large digital news sites. Implications?

This piece from Poynter caught my eye -- Report: readers more loyal to large news sites.

The latest report by analytics firm indicates large news sites see a greater percentage of visitors return within 30 days than small news sites do.

That finding runs counter to the company’s internal hypothesis that niche sites would have higher return rates, the company said in an email.
(Note, this is one of those reports that to get you have to give out an email to get on a mailing list, so it's good to have a garbage email account handy.)

Although this is talking about mostly pure digital sites, it makes me wonder if there are implications for smaller community publishers as well. I've been pondering the potential squeeze on local media - it doesn't scale in an era when there is a race to the bottom in online ad rates and so scale is almost mandatory, and then when people get online I've often suspected just from observation that they gravitate to the larger national and international sites.

This makes for some very interesting thinking on the business model for local media, especially that midrange of small dailies, as mobile makes its relentless penetration.

March 27, 2014

Paul Fahri on the decline of local news

From the Washington Post following up on Pew's State of the News Media 2014 report:

The demise of the News & Messenger tells a small story about a larger movement within the news business. Even in prosperous, well-educated Prince William County, local news has become a tough sell, especially online. It’s not that people aren’t interested in their communities — local news usually ranks as the top priority in surveys — it’s that the economics of the digital age work strongly against reporting about schools, cops and the folks down the street.

March 09, 2014

COMJIG Call for Papers

The Community Journalism Interest Group (COMJIG) is seeking original, non published research papers to be considered for presentation at the 2014 AEJMC national conference in Montreal, Canada. The deadline for paper submissions is April 1, 2014.

This theme for this year’s submissions will be “The Next 10 Years of Community Journalism.” 2014 represents the 10 year anniversary for the community journalism interest group. 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, geographic or digital. We emphasize that community need not just be defined as within traditional geographical or social boundaries, but that given technological advances it may also be applied to journalism and its relationship to communities of interest online. Papers could address issues such as how “community’” is defined or how its meaning changes in an increasingly digital media environment. In addition, while the interest group will seek to offer a diverse program, we hope to receive some submissions that address the theme “The Next 10 Years of Community Journalism.” To mark the 10-year anniversary, we will offer a special referred research panel on the future of community. The top submissions relating to the theme will have the opportunity to be considered for submission to the peer reviewed journal Community Journalism, COMJIG’S official publication.

Paper submissions should include a 100 to 150 word abstract and not exceed 8,000 words, including references, tables and notes. All papers should conform to APA style, Sixth Edition. Graduate students are encouraged to submit papers.

All research papers must be uploaded to the group via a link on the AEJMC website. Please see AEJMC’s Paper Competition Uniform Call for more information.

Additional questions should be directed to COMJIG Research Committee Chair Hans K. Meyer (

March 03, 2014

Nominations Needed

AEJMC is seeking nominations (applications and self-nominations are welcome) for the 2014 AEJMC Equity & Diversity Award, which recognizes academic units that are working toward, and have attained demonstrable success in increasing equity and diversity.

The application deadline is 5 p.m. Eastern time, March 18, 2014.

Please address any questions to: Deb Aikat <>, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

February 17, 2014

Should city pay postage to distribute community weekly?

The Madison, Wis., suburb of Fitchburg has entered a deal with a community-newspaper publisher to cover at least $30,000 in postage to revive the print edition of the town's paper, which stopped printing the paper in 2009. An article in the Wisconsin State Journal broaches the conflict-of-interest topic (would the deal curb editorial independence, despite assurances from both the publisher and the mayor that it would not?). It also briefly touches on the "value of community newspapers," though it does not expand on that point.

February 12, 2014

Journalism Practice: Special Community Journalism Issue

J-Practice's special community journalism issue is out:

Lots of good stuff.

February 03, 2014

COMJIG Panelists Needed

Hello everyone,

I hope everyone is getting excited about our conference in Montreal in August. As you know, the Community Journalism Interest Group is sponsoring and/or co-sponsoring several interesting panels during the conference, including:

- First Nation Media in North America (Sat., Aug. 9, 12:45 p.m.)
- Hyperlocal Journalism on Both Sides of the Border: A Canada-U.S. Perspective (Friday, Aug. 8, 1:45 p.m.)
- Preparing Journalism Students for a Globalized World (Friday, Aug. 8, 5:15 p.m.)
- Defining emergent journalistic behaviors (Wed., Aug. 6, 3:15 p.m.) 

We are participating in two additional panels for which we still need panelists. Please email me by Feb. 17 if you would like to nominate yourself or someone else for the panel. You can email me at

The panels are:

1. Panel: Ethnic Media in North America: Political Rights and Community Participation (Thurs., Aug. 7, 8:15 a.m.)
(Research Panel)
Co-sponsored by MAC and COMJIG

The roles of ethnic media in the U.S. and Canada in the intersection of two realities -- political and gender issues that matter most to ethnic minority groups in question. Because of the growth in ethnic minority populations and the migration of foreign-born populations with different cultural identities, ethnic media industry is growing in both the U.S. and Canada. In multi-ethnic societies, mainstream media outlets struggle to ensure inclusive coverage. Therefore, ethnic and community media outlets are supposed to fill in the gap in a media environment by carrying out the community-oriented coverage of social and political issues. Consequentially, ethnic media can contribute community-oriented perspectives to policymaking processes and policy discourses.

In this context, panelists comprised of media diversity scholars and Montreal-based ethnic media publisher will share their investigations on how effectively the U.S. and Canadian ethnic media have performed their political roles. Along with the political roles of ethnic media, this panel will explore to what extent ethnic media included the perspectives of women/minority women in the discussion/coverage of politically important issues and also examine publications focused on gender.

Prospective Panelists (listed in alphabetical order):
Tracy Everbach, University of North Texas
George Guzmas,
Ralph Izard, Louisiana State University and Media Diversity Forum
Federico Subervi, Kent State University
COMJIG panelist TBA

2. Preparing Students for Community Journalism  (Thurs. Aug. 7, 8:15 a.m.)
(Teaching Panel)
Sponsored by ICIG
Two panelists needed

Community Journalism seems to fit very well in the new hyper-local and community driven journalism industry, both online and in print/broadcast formats. How can instructors better shape their class instruction and guide students into internships that help develop these skills?
A panel discussion focusing on:
a.     What “Best Practices” classroom instruction and experience motivates students’ interest in Community Journalism?
b.     What types of internship opportunities fit best into a Community Journalism experience?
Prospective Panelists (listed in alphabetical order):
Al Cross, director of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, University of Kentucky
Sue Porter, vice president/programs for the Scripps Howard Foundation

Also looking for academics from co-sponsoring Interest Groups who have taught courses and administered internships focused on Community Journalism.
Dianne Garyantes
Vice Chair/ Program Head, COMJIG