|COMJIG Founder, Jock Lauterer, right, receives the Roots Journalism Award from outgoing head of COMJIG, John Hatcher.|
In August of 2004, Jock Lauterer (now director of the Carolina Community Media Project), gathered a group of community journalism educators in a room at the AEJMC conference in Toronto, Canada, and announced that he and colleague Peggy Kuhr had convinced AEJMC leaders to approve the creation of an interest group dedicated to community journalism.
At AEJMC's annual conference this year, COMJIG's current officers wanted to find a way to recognize and thank Lauterer for launching this group and for his commitment to the study and practice of community journalism. We needed look no farther than the words of Lauterer himself when searching for a name for the award to honor him. This is what Lauterer wrote in the Forward to the 2012 book, "Foundations of Community Journalism,"
Lately I have begun to think of community journalism under a slightly different concept—that of “roots journalism.” Like roots music, roots journalism reflects the indigenous culture through storytelling.
When the great bassist Christian McBride was asked what guided his music, he replied that he tried to keep his repertoire “rooted in the groove.” It is that commitment to “rootedness” that has been community journalism’s credo from the start, and which has propelled community newspapers and many other community journalism efforts through “the Great Recession” and beyond.
The officers of the Community Journalism Interest Group hope this award is at least one small way of thanking Lauterer for his unending passion and support for all things community.