Below is a copy of the 2008-2009 annual report for the Community Journalism Interest Group. You may want to pay particular attention to the group's goals for the coming year. We will be discussing these goals and how to achieve them at our members' meeting on Thursday, Aug. 6, at 6:45 p.m. during the AEJMC convention in Boston. Please join us as we chart COMJIG's course for the coming year.
Community Journalism Interest Group
Annual Report 2008-2009
1. Officers 2008-2009
Head: Elizabeth Hansen, Eastern Kentucky
Vice Head/Programming Chair: Doug Fisher, South Carolina
Research Chair: Andris Straumanis, Wisconsin-River Falls
PF&R Chair: Jennifer Wood Adams, Auburn
Teaching Standards: Eileen Gilligan, SUNY-Oswego
Secretary/membership: Bill Reader, Ohio
Webmaster: Doug Fisher, South Carolina
Past Head: Bill Reader, Ohio
Report prepared by Elizabeth Hansen and Doug Fisher
2. Demographics -- (Reported on separate form and not posted here.)
3. Overall statement of activities:
The Community Journalism Interest Group (COMJIG) had 99 members as of June 15, 2009, compared with 110 at the time of the 2008 convention. While the drop is a concern, we expect it is the result of the economy and we will work to increase our number of members as the economy improves. COMJIG is working to balance its activities among Research, Teaching and PF&R. COMJIG’s 2008 convention program and many of our members’ out-of-convention activities this year were focused on PF&R activities. COMJIG’s ties to the profession are emphasized in our PF&R goals (see PR&R section). The heavy emphasis on PF&R activities at the 2008 convention followed a year in which COMJIG had focused on Teaching.
Looking ahead, COMJIG’s 2009 convention programming includes a panel devoted to research opportunities in community journalism. This panel is an effort to increase awareness among not only COMJIG members but among other AEJMC members and graduate students as well. An examination of the titles of papers accepted by other divisions and interest groups shows that a number of them would have been appropriate for COMJIG as well as for the division or interest group where they were accepted. We revised our research paper call for 2009 in hopes of increasing paper submissions and are looking ahead to a special paper call for the 2010 convention as a way to encourage more research focused on community oriented news media.
In order to balance our programming and activities, we are continuing to work with groups both inside and outside of AEJMC. For example, COMJIG Head Elizabeth Hansen, who also chairs the academic partners of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, has invited some of those partners to share their efforts to help rural journalists at the 2009 convention and plans to work with the partners to increase research on rural media.
Research overview: COMJIG continues to struggle with attracting submissions to our paper competitions. We made research a focus for 2008-2009 and have scheduled a panel on research opportunities in community journalism for the 2009 convention. The quality of the papers submitted both last year and this year was good, but we would like to attract more submissions. For the 2008 convention, we had nine submissions and accepted five papers. For the 2009 convention, we had seven submissions and accepted five papers from five universities (Alabama, Auburn, Kentucky, South Carolina and Texas). A total of nine scholars were responsible for the five accepted papers. To increase interest in our paper competition, COMJIG added a cash prize to the top faculty paper award beginning in 2009, which complements the cash prize for the top student paper we began awarding in 2008. However, while we will be presenting a top student paper award in 2009, we will not present a top faculty paper award because of disagreement among the paper judges as to the quality of the faculty-submitted papers. Outside the convention, COMJIG members are presenting and publishing community journalism research in a variety of venues, with several members presenting work at the 2008 Newspapers and Community Building Symposium co-sponsored by the Huck Boyd National Center for Community Media and the National Newspaper Association Foundation.
Teaching overview: After a strong emphasis on teaching at the 2007 convention, COMJIG programmed one teaching panel for the 2008 convention in Chicago. The panel, co-sponsored with CCJIG, examined strategies for incorporating digital media into civic-oriented student media and courses. At the 2009 convention, COMJIG will also co-sponsor, this time with Newspaper, a teaching panel titled "Pushing Students Outside Their Comfort Zones: The Challenge of Teaching the Sheltered Student Generation." COMJIG members continue to explore and develop creative ways of teaching journalism within the context of communities. A number of COMJIG members link their teaching activities to PF&R projects, using such activities as research for community newspapers or creation of a Web site to deliver news to an underserved community as vehicles for teaching journalism students in a real-world setting. Innovations in teaching continue to be one of COMJIG members' major contributions.
PF&R overview: COMJIG’s PF&R activities have traditionally been a strong suit both in convention and throughout the year. The 2008 convention had a particularly strong line-up of PF&R sessions addressing a variety of concerns of the profession. PF&R panels dealt with use of anonymous sources, dealing with offensive postings on community media Web sites, culturally-defined community newspapers in the Chicago area, and heroes of community journalism.
COMJIG also co-sponsored a mini-plenary session on the transformation of print journalism. At the 2009 convention, COMJIG is planning three PF&R panels: “Helping Rural Journalists Better Serve Their Communities,” “Reinventing Journalism: Designing Four Experiments,” and “The Health of the Ethnic Media and Their Role in an Evolving Journalism World.” We are also co-sponsoring a PF&R mini-plenary titled “Normative Theories of the Media Worldwide: Issues of Responsibility and Freedom.” We are also co-sponsoring with CCJIG a three-hour pre-conference workshop titled “Citizen Journalism and Media Literacy in the Mumbai Terrorist Attacks” and the J-lab luncheon that spotlights developments in community and citizen-journalism. Throughout the year, COMJIG members have been engaged in a variety of ways with the profession and through leadership roles and active membership in other groups, including such organizations as the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Newspaper Association, the American Copy Editors Society, and the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors.
Summary: While COMJIG’s in-convention programming emphasis varies from year-to-year, over a five-year cycle COMJIG has a good balance of research, teaching and PF&R activities, although because of the group’s strong ties to the industry, activities may be slightly skewed toward PF&R. The balance among the three areas is also reflected in members’ wide range of activities outside the convention.
4. Goals: Next year, last year
These are our most important goals for 2009-2010:
· Get out the word that the “community” in community journalism refers to more than geographic communities. While COMJIG programming has always reflected this, the perception outside the interest group seems to be that we focus only on traditional, geographically defined community newspapers. We want to change that perception and let people know that community refers not only to geographic communities but also to communities of interest, ethnicity, culture, religion, occupation, etc., and that the medium is not solely the printed word.
· Increase paper submissions by issuing a special paper call. A goal of COMJIG two years ago was to “Stop worrying about quantity of research" and the group continues to be satisfied with the "quality over quantity" approach to our research paper submissions. Nevertheless, we need to encourage more research about community journalism. In recognition of the relative strength of community newspapers compared to metros these days, we plan a special paper call asking researchers to examine how the community journalism model differs from that of the metropolitan media model and to explore what metropolitan newsrooms can learn from the continued success of community media.
· Focus on how teaching community journalism is changing as journalism is changing. While community media have always been a career destination for some, journalism students and professors have more often viewed them as the first stop on the road to a career with larger media. How do we teach and what do we teach when students’ first jobs, second jobs and perhaps whole careers will be spent at community media?
At its members' meeting in Chicago in August 2008, COMJIG set these goals for the year:
· Focus on Research activity for the 2009 convention in Boston, to balance out strong emphases on Teaching in 2007 and on PF&R in 2008.
While COMJIG took some steps toward reaching this goal, we were not completely successful. We organized and are the lead co-sponsor (with Newspaper) for a research panel titled "Research Opportunities in Community Journalism" at the 2009 convention. Despite revising our call for papers and adding a cash prize for the top faculty paper as well as for the top graduate student paper, we were not successful in increasing the number of paper submissions we received.
· Encourage more international/non-U.S. participation. Try to partner with the International Communication Division for at least one session at the 2009 convention.
COMJIG is partnering with the International Communication Division and the Religion and Media Interest Group at the 2009 convention to sponsor a mini-plenary titled "Normative Theories of the Media Worldwide: Issues of Responsibility and Freedom," which will include several panelists from outside the United States. Some other COMJIG-sponsored panels will also feature speakers from outside the United States. For example, Steve Knowlton of Dublin City University will participate in a panel on how universities can help rural journalists. COMJIG and CCJIG are also co-sponsoring a pre-conference workshop with an international component, "Citizen Journalism and Media Literacy in the Mumbai Terrorist Attacks."
· Emphasize the role of community journalism in urban/suburban areas. Boston and other northeastern metropolises (i.e., New York, Philadelphia) have many suburbs with strong local identities and strong traditions of community journalism in the shadow of major metro media (for example, many Boston suburbs are served by community newspapers).
Building on a session from the 2008 convention that looked beyond geographic communities in examining Chicago's community newspapers, in 2009 COMJIG is lead sponsor with the Minorities and Communication Division for a panel titled "The Health of the Ethnic Media and Their Role in an Evolving Journalism World" that will bring together academics and representatives of newspapers that focus on Boston's ethnic communities. Given the widely publicized troubles at the Boston Globe, this examination of the ability of urban community media to potentially assume more prominent roles is critical and timely.
*How may any or all of the Standing Committees help you to achieve your goals in the coming year?
The Standing Committee on Research could perhaps help us make other division and IG members aware of the scope of COMJIG’s research interests and help get out the word about our special paper call for the 2010 convention.
After having no research panel at the 2008 convention, research was the focus of COMJIG this year. A panel at the 2009 convention will be devoted to opportunities in community journalism research. Members of COMJIG and others continue to produce research in the field, but much of it is submitted to other divisions of AEJMC or presented or published elsewhere. COMJIG continues to struggle to attract more scholars to participate in our research competition. At the 2008 convention, the membership voted to add a cash award to the top faculty award in an attempt to attract more submissions. A $100 award for the top student paper was created in 2007 and presented for the first time in 2008. Papers submitted to COMJIG employ a variety of methodologies and are quite diverse in their approaches and subject matter.
The following data are for the 2009 paper competition and program.
5. Number of faculty research paper submissions 4 , including one faculty-student collaboration; number of acceptances ___4__; __100___%. The acceptance rate is higher than the Research Committee guideline of 50 percent.
6. Number of student research paper submissions _3_; number of acceptances ___1__; __33___%. The acceptance rate is lower than the Research Committee guideline of 50 percent, but it should be noted that one of the faculty papers accepted had student co-authors. Overall, our acceptance rate was about 71 percent.
7. COMJIG used the standard evaluation form available online through All Academic. The form required feedback on a 1-5 scale across 10 criteria: Clarity of purpose, Literature review, Clarity of research method, Appropriateness of research method, Evidence relates to purpose of paper, Evidence is presented clearly, Evidence supports conclusions, Writing and organization, Relevance of focus to COMJIG, and Significant contribution to field. Reviewers also were asked if they would recommend acceptance or rejection of a paper.
8. Total # of judges for 2009: 5; 4 judges had 3 papers to review and 1 had 2 papers to review. This was well within the Research Committee guideline of no more than 4 papers per judge.
9. Did your group conduct any other type of refereed competition? No.
10. Please list your in-convention activities related to research.
COMJIG has scheduled a research panel for the Boston convention titled "Research Opportunities in Community Journalism." COMJIG Is the lead sponsor and primary organizer of the panel, which we are co-sponsoring with the Newspaper Division. For Chicago last August, we accepted five research papers, three in a paper session and two in a scholar-to-scholar session. In Boston this year we will also have five papers, three in a paper session and two in a scholar-to-scholar session. A total of 10 scholars contributed to the papers accepted.
11. This is a partial list of out-of-convention research activities by some members. It was not feasible to compile a comprehensive list:
· COMJIG Head Elizabeth Hansen (Eastern Kentucky) and former PF&R chair and COMJIG member Al Cross (Kentucky) co-authored a paper titled “Keeping quiet or taking the lead: a study of editorial pages, local editorial material and political endorsements in one state’s newspapers,” presented at the 14th annual Newspapers and Community-Building Symposium, co-sponsored by the Huck Boyd National Center for Community Media and the National Newspaper Association Foundation, St. Paul, Minn., in September 2008. Hansen and co-author Gary L. Hansen presented a paper titled "The Role of the Media in Developing Communities of Interest about a Community of Place," at the Rural Sociological Society annual meeting in Manchester, N.H., July 31, 2008. Hansen wrote a community journalism case study for inclusion in the new edition of the Society of Professional Journalists' ethics book. She also supervised a research study for a community daily conducted by students in her Community Journalism class and is planning an article based on the findings.
· Vice Head/Program Chair Doug Fisher, South Carolina, continued research on Hartsville Today, the almost four-year-old community news site established in conjunction with the Hartsville Messenger. Upcoming is a survey of the membership, which is now at about 1,700 in a market area of about 20,000. Fisher is spending the summer in the newsroom of The (Sumter, S.C.) Item, helping the 18,000-circulation daily better adapt its community journalism to digital delivery and compiling a case study. He writes "Common Sense Journalism," a monthly column (and accompanying blog) aimed at community journalists, which continues to be published by press associations around the country and is close to its 100th column. His papers and publications include: "Building community online: A twice-weekly's experience extending its reach with the Hartsville Today citizen-based news site," presented at the 14th annual Newspapers and Community-Building Symposium, co-sponsored by the Huck Boyd National Center for Community Media and the National Newspaper Association Foundation, St. Paul, Minn., and later published in Grassroots Editor (Winter 2008) 49(4) p. 12-18; “Building community online.” The Convergence Newsletter. (May-June 2009).
· Secretary and Past Head Bill Reader, Ohio, and John Hatcher, Minnesota-Duluth, have a contract from Sage for "The Foundations of Community Journalism: A Primer for Research." The book will include chapters from many COMJIG members, including Eileen Gilligan, George Daniels, Wilson Lowrey and Janice Hume. The book is on schedule for publication in 2010.
· COMJIG member Don Corrigan, Webster, presented “When The National News Media Hits Your Community: Kirkwood In Crisis," at the 14th annual Newspapers and Community-Building Symposium, co-sponsored by the Huck Boyd National Center for Community Media and the National Newspaper Association Foundation, St. Paul, Minn. The presentation, which examined the Feb. 7, 2008, shooting massacre in Kirkwood City Hall in suburban St. Louis, was subsequently published in two magazines.
· Member Al Cross, Kentucky, who is director of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, presented “The Importance of Rural Journalism in Promoting Community Health: The key word is Local;” with co-authors Anna Goodman Hoover, University of Kentucky, and Laura Hall Downey, University of Southern Mississippi, at national Priester Extension Health Conference, Indianapolis, April 2009. He also presented “Partnerships for Supporting Local Health Efforts: The Link Between Journalism and Public Health in One Rural Community with co-authors Laura Hall, Carol Ireson and Douglas Scutchfield at the Higher Education Exchange, Kettering Foundation, summer 2008. An article published on the Institute's Rural Blog, “Vilsack calls for carbon credits for agriculture and forestry, with USDA oversight, and disagrees with EPA on measuring ethanol's carbon footprint,” was picked up by several national publications, May-June 2009.
· COMJIG member Ralph Hanson, Nebraska-Kearney, with co-authors Maryanne Reed and Briana Warner, presented “Community radio as an alternative to corporate and public radio” to the Western Social Science Association mass communication division.
· COMJIG member Rex A. Martin, Bowie State, contributed a dozen entries to the new six-volume "Encyclopedia of Journalism" that Sage is releasing in September. His entries ranged from "Controlled Circulation" to "Obituaries" to "Self-Regulation" to the "Stars & Stripes." Where appropriate, he inserted references to community journalism, and some entries - such as that for "Weeklies" - have obvious relevance.
· COMJIG member Michael Ray Smith, Campbell, published two articles in Grassroots Editor: 1) Smith, M. R. & Lilley, M. (2008, Winter). The seven questions and The Daily Record. Grassroots Editor, 49(4), 19-20, and 2) Smith, M. R. (2008, Fall). Hyperlocalism and The Daily Record. Grassroots Editor, 49(3), 12-17. Smith is also working on a book about the handwritten newspapers of John McLean Harrington.
· COMJIG member Brian Steffens, Missouri, published “Understanding Readers of Local Newspapers and Editorial Journalism in Small Communities” with Kenneth Fleming, associate director of research, Reynolds Journalism Institute, University of Missouri. He is working on another round of research questions for readers of community newspapers.
· COMJIG member Patricia Thomas, Georgia, has a pilot study under way, along with colleagues Drs. Ruthann Lariscy and Jeff Springston, called “Greene County: A Picture of Health by Our Youth.” They are teaching eighth-graders to be citizen journalists on the health beat in a rural, medically underserved community with great extremes of wealth and poverty. Their assignments are to profile health in their own family, their neighborhood, and their school. The researchers will edit it into a documentary that will be shown publicly when school resumes in the fall. Their hope is to learn from this – what works and what doesn’t – and use it as a springboard to a much larger youth citizen journalism project in multiple Northeast Georgia counties.
12. The research goals for 2008-09 were to actively recruit more participation in our research competition and to develop at least one panel for the 2009 Boston convention focused on research issues in Community Journalism. To stimulate interest in the research competition, we added a cash prize to the top faculty paper award in 2009, to complement the $100 cash award we agreed in 2007 to give to the top student paper starting in 2008. A top faculty paper award will not be made In 2009 because judges could not agree on the quality of the three faculty papers submitted (The fourth faculty paper had student co-authors.). The research goals for 2009-2010 are to continue to try to Increase participation in our research competition by issuing a special paper call and to try to focus some of that research on the differences between the community and metro models for doing journalism.
13. As an interest group, COMJIG does not have enough programming slots to do multiple teaching, research and PF&R sessions at each convention. Instead, we have opted to rotate focus on one of these areas each year. Because our emphasis in 2007 was on teaching, at the 2008 convention in Chicago, we co-sponsored just one teaching panel (with Civic/Citizen Journalism) titled, "Whose Learning Curve Is It? Strategies for Incorporating Digital Media into Civic-Oriented Student Media and Courses." This session focused on course content and teaching methods. At the 2009 convention in Boston, where our emphasis is on research, COMJIG will also co-sponsor one teaching panel (this time with Newspaper) titled "Pushing Students Outside Their Comfort Zones: The Challenge of Teaching the Sheltered Student Generation."
14. This is a partial list of teaching activities beyond the convention by some members. It was not feasible to compile a comprehensive list:
· COMJIG Head Elizabeth Hansen, Eastern Kentucky, and her community journalism students conducted a readership study of both the print and online versions of a Kentucky community daily in the spring of 2009. This was the 15th community journalism project community journalism students at Eastern Kentucky University have conducted since 1991 – all but two of them under Hansen’s direction. Community Journalism is the capstone course for journalism majors and is used in assessment of the program.
· Vice Head/Program Chair Doug Fisher, South Carolina, teaches the senior semester capstone course that produces "The Carolina Reporter." Fisher teaches editing and multimedia in the program that immerses students in the equivalent of a mid-sized community newsroom. “The Carolina Reporter” was named "national finalist," third place as best all-around, nondaily college newspaper by the Society of Professional Journalists.
· Head Emeritus Jock Lauterer, North Carolina-Chapel Hill, is continuing to guide his community journalism students as they produce the Carrboro Commons, a Web-based lab community paper for the neighboring town of Carrboro. In its third year, the project now includes PDF printable versions of each story/photo package, and more Soundslide and video components. It can be viewed at http://www.carrborocommons.org.
· Member Al Cross established Midway Messenger, a student-written news site for Midway, Ky., pop. 1,620, a prosperous town that once had a newspaper and generates considerable news, some of which is not fully reported by the county-seat weekly. See www.MidwayMessenger.org, http://midwayky.blogspot.com.
· Member Patricia Thomas, Georgia, taught a graduate course in Health and Medical Journalism, spring 2009. Students in this reporting/writing seminar were each assigned to cover health beat in one Northeast Georgia county. They partnered with undergraduates in documentary photography to produce multimedia packages about each county. Their aggregated blogs are available at http://deepsouthhealth.blogspot.com. Go to www.grady.uga.edu/knighthealth to see the “Rural Health” package that the graduate and undergraduate students produced together. On that same page, click on “student portfolios” to see additional stories they wrote.
· Member Andrea Frantz, Wilkes, received a Faculty Achievement Award for her teaching and research.
15. The Teaching mission of COMJIG has always been twofold. The first is to use communities as places where journalism students can explore and hone the skills they learn in the classroom. The second is to provide communities that are in need of strong community media with quality journalism products that are, ideally, sustainable and influential. With our in-conference activities related to teaching and the strong, ongoing out-of-conference activities of COMJIG members, we believe that we consistently meet those goals. Our members provide a variety of community based experiences for students while at the same time serving diverse communities. Teaching awards our members have received both this year and in the past are a testament to the teaching skills of our members.
16. For the fourth year in a row, in 2009 COMJIG is co-sponsoring a mini-plenary PF&R panel, this one titled "Normative Theories of the Media Worldwide: Issues of Responsibility and Freedom." This panel advances COMJIG's goal of increasing its international focus and involvement.
We are also co-sponsoring three PF&R panels: "Helping Rural Journalists Better Serve Their Communities," which COMJIG is organizing with CCJIG as a secondary sponsor, "Reinventing Journalism: Designing Four Experiments, " for which COMJIG is a co-sponsor with CCJIG, and "The Health of the Ethnic Media and Their Role In an Evolving Journalism World," co-sponsored with Minorities and Communication. By comparison, in 2008 COMJIG co-sponsored a mini-plenary and four PF&R panels.
It should be self evident how all four PF&R sessions tackle, at least in part, the issues of free expression, ethics, media criticism & accountability, racial, gender and cultural inclusiveness, and public service.
The following non-AEJMC members are scheduled to participate on COMJIG PF&R panels at the 2009 convention, reflecting the group's ties to the profession. Panelists will include:
· Chris Stadelman, publisher and editor, The Parsons Advocate, Parsons, West Virginia
· Doc Searls, senior editor, Linux Journal
· Christine Stuart, editor, CTNEWS-Junkie.com
· Marcela Elisa Garcia, editor, El Planeta
· Elvin Miller, publisher, Bay State Banner
17. This is a partial list of PF&R activities beyond the convention by some members. It was not feasible to compile a comprehensive list:
· COMJIG Head Elizabeth Hansen, Eastern Kentucky, is chair of the Steering Committee of the Institute for Rural Journalists and Community Issues, headquartered at the University of Kentucky. The Steering Committee is made up of 26 academic partners of the Institute at universities across the country. She is also a member of the Institute’s Executive Committee. Hansen serves on the national board of the Society of Professional Journalists, which has members from community media, and is a member of SPJ’s national Ethics Committee. She has addressed inquiries to the Ethics Committee from staff of community media.
· Vice Head/Program Chair Doug Fisher is an instructor in Newsplex Summer Seminars, which help faculty from colleges around the world adapt and expand digital techniques in their journalism teaching with a focus on simple techniques that can be used in gathering news of their communities. He is also executive editor of The Convergence Newsletter, a 10-times-per-year electronic newsletter exploring issues of convergence around the world. The newsletter includes a special issue on convergence and communities.
· Teaching Chair Eileen Gilligan, SUNY-Oswego, writes a monthly column for Family Times, the monthly free magazine published by the Syracuse New Times. Her column, "Bright Ideas," won second place in the "family fun" category of the Parenting Publications of America 2008 contest. Gilligan reports that the Center for Community Journalism at SUNY-Oswego was put on hiatus in January 2009 due to state budget cuts. The Web site and some services remain available.
· Head Emeritus Jock Lauterer, North Carolina, was named a Faculty Engaged Scholar and received a $15,000 award from the UNC Center for Public Service for his public service outreach work in community journalism. He also received a $25,000 grant from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation to help launch a community newspaper and Web site for inner-city Durham that will be staffed by local urban youth, mentored by UNC-Chapel Hill community journalism students and predominantly black journalism students from Durham HBCU, North Carolina Central University. Lauterer has partnered with the City of Durham office of revitalization, the Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club, and the Durham Public School system to kick this off with a series of basic photography classes for urban youth this spring and summer. The UNC-Chapel Hill student newspaper, the Daily Tar Heel, has donated the first year of printing for free, and Lauterer anticipates launching the Web version of the Northeast Central Durham Community Newspaper this fall. Lauterer is also in his ninth summer of the Community Journalism Roadshow, having reached more than 130 community papers in North Carolina. so far. He is blogging the Roadshow for the Carrboro Commons this summer while the students are on break. Accounts of the Roadshow are also found in Publishers’ Auxiliary.
· Don Corrigan, Webster, who is editor of two community weeklies, won 2nd place in Column Writing at the 2008 Independent Free Papers Association Convention (IFPA) in Seattle, and his newspaper group won numerous other awards, including General Excellence. Corrigan won 3rd place for Best Outdoor Story for weeklies at the 2008 Missouri Press Association Convention in Columbia, Mo.
· Member Al Cross, Kentucky, conducted two seminars titled “Sorting Through the Smoke” on covering local tobacco and health issues in Danville and Madisonville, Ky., May 15 and 29, 2009. The Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, which Cross directs, received the 2009 Media Award presented by the East Kentucky Leadership Foundation.
· Member Deborah Givens and Head Elizabeth Hansen, Eastern Kentucky, and member Al Cross, Kentucky, are planning the 2010 conference of the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors, which EKU and UK will co-host at Eastern Kentucky University in June 2010.
· Member Chad Stebbins, Missouri Southern State, continues to serve as executive director of the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors and editor of Grassroots Editor, ISWNE's quarterly journal.
· Member Patricia Thomas, Georgia, continues to work closely with ethnic media in Georgia and neighboring states, striving to strengthen health coverage in these community news organizations.
18. Please describe briefly PF&R goals and activities of your division. Such description may include discussion of primary accomplishments, programming diversity, special competitions, faculty/student research awards, newsletter activities and other activities.
As the gap widens between the health of "big-city" and national news operations and the by far more numerous community media, COMJIG seeks to ensure that community media are included in the national conversation about journalism 's future. This making sure the operational, ethical and financial issues faced by smaller, community-oriented news organizations– and which may be far different than those faced by the relative handful of larger newsrooms – are discussed at professional conferences and training seminars. This also means providing free or low-cost advice and training to community journalists, either through informal consulting or by conducting more formal workshops at conferences, seminars, and the like. Our third PF&R objective is to make sure that, collectively, we continue to expand our service to community media that are not simply "small-town newspapers" (which have been the primary focus of community journalism efforts for decades), but serve other types of communities (ethnic communities, occupational communities, communities of interest, etc.) and other media forms (radio, television, digital, magazines, etc.). At COMJIG's joint business meeting with CCJIG at the 2008 convention, members discussed a proposal from Bill Reader, Ohio, outgoing head of COMJIG, and Jack Rosenberry (St. John Fisher), outgoing head of CCJIG, for a collaborative project to reach out to daily newspapers in the United States to teach them how to more effectively use both community and civic journalism in their news operations. No progress was made on this proposal this year, but it is something COMJIG may reconsider in the future when volunteers are available to lead the efforts and the economy is more conducive to funding such training.
19. Please attach copies of the newsletters sent by your group this year, and any othermaterial you wish us to note.
We do not publish a newsletter. Instead, we maintain a Web site/blog that serves as a newsletter and a forum for discussion of key issues. The URL is: http://comjig.blogspot.com/. We also maintain a list serve on Yahoo groups, which provides a timely and efficient way to communicate with our members and to make relevant documents available to them. Web master Doug Fisher oversees both the Web site and the list serve.