November 05, 2018

DEADLINE EXTENDED: Huck Boyd/ISWNE "Strengthening Community News" paper call

ISWNE and the Huck Boyd National Center for Community Media are extending until MondayNov12 the deadline for submitting two-page proposals for the 2019 “Strengthening Community News Competition,” which seeks research that will benefit the newsrooms of community weeklies and similar publications.  Authors of accepted proposals will be invited to submit completed research papers (2,500-6,000 words) by April 1, 2019, for peer review and publication, by January of 2020, in Grassroots Editor. In addition, the author of the top paper will receive a scholarship to attend the 2019 ISWNE conference in Atlanta, and present the paper there. 

The full paper call can be found here.

October 15, 2018

Deadline season is upon us, as many of us rush to meet the International Communication Association deadline for November 1, and/or the BEA deadline on December 1.

The one deadline that I wanted to bring to your attention is a call for a grant proposal that focuses on the expertise of many members in our community: local news.

The call is around the corner-- October 19, 2018-- but is a great opportunity to get involved in local news innovation. Details below:

The 2018 PILOT Innovation Challenge is a call to creative students, faculty, professionals with good ideas to apply for a grant up to $30,000. The challenge question this year is: What is an innovative way broadcasters and other local media could serve communities?

The organizers are awarding prizes (one each) of #30,000, $25,000 and $20,000 and three prizes in the amount of $15,000.

Winners also will be mentored by industry leaders and provided with opportunities to network with professionals from the field. Six finalists will be brought to Seattle to present their projects to industry executives on January 27, 2019 and the NAB show in Las Vegas in April 2019.
Of last year's six finalists, three were academic faculty members from Ohio University, University of Maryland and University of Colorado Boulder.

The deadline for submitting ideas is October 19 at 5 pm (eastern time). 




October 12, 2018

Interesting read: How skillsets of local, national journalists are diverging

This was an interesting read from Nieman Reports in the past week:

The Great Disconnect: How Journalists at Local and National Outlets Are Evolving Different Skill Sets

Definitely some things to think about here for journalism education.

Al Cross on NPR on key Ky. congressional election

Good to hear COMJIG's Al Cross on NPR's "Morning Edition" today discussing one of the midterm election's hot contests, Kentucky's 6th District congressional race.

https://www.npr.org/2018/10/12/656814421/kentucky-midterm-house-race-6th-congressional-district-issues

September 14, 2018

ISWNE, Huck Boyd 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 seeking proposals for papers that provide insight and guidance on general issues and/or everyday problems confronting community newspapers and their newsrooms.

This competition is an extension of the 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 and final selection of the papers to be written will be made by a panel of working and retired community journalists who will evaluate the proposals on the basis of 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 be selected for presentation at the 2019 ISWNE conference in Atlanta, Georgia. The ISWNE Foundation will provide the author with complimentary registration for that conference, as well as a partial subsidy for travel. Proposals from graduate students are encouraged.

A second paper also will be published in Grassroots Editor, with its author invited to write a brief (400-500 word) summary for the ISWNE Newsletter. The authors of both top papers will also received complementary one-year memberships in ISWNE. 

The deadline for proposals is Nov. 1, 2018. The full call for proposals and instructions for authors can be found here

August 29, 2018

Media Law School weekend - excellent for community journalists

You know that if you are in community journalism, you're probably going to spend some serious time down at the county courthouse. This is an excellent opportunity to learn more and make your job easier (did we mention that it's basically free?):

Working journalists are invited to apply for fellowships to attend Media Law School 2018, to be held Sept. 19-22 in Columbia, South Carolina at the University of South Carolina.

Media Law School is an intensive seminar that teaches journalists about criminal law and procedure with a focus on how to more effectively cover trials and the judicial process. Sessions are led by the university's law and journalism faculty and practicing attorneys and judges.

Approximately 30 fellowships in the amount of $400 each are available to cover travel costs to and from Columbia. In addition, lodging and most meals are provided. There is no fee to attend. Fellowship applications are due by Aug. 20. For more information and to apply, visit www.law.sc.edu/medialawschool.

In its third year, the Media Law School has drawn journalists from a variety of news organizations and all U.S. regions. It is presented by the university's School of Law and College or Information and Communications. It is sponsored by the American Board of Trial Advocates.

Contact Carmen Maye with questions at medialaw@sc.edu.

Cannot vs. would not comment

Fairly regularly, I see sentences like this in stories:

"Mayor Jane Darby said she cannot comment because the lawsuit is ongoing." (Group sues Edisto Beach after town bans religious worship services from its civic center)

She certainly can comment if she wants to, unless there is a clear policy, law, etc., that prevents her.

And maybe there is. But too often stories say an official said he or she "cannot" comment. Often, a stock phrase that like "because the lawsuit is ongoing" is thrown in - phrases that when you parse them really don't say much.

And that subtly makes us complicit in one of the favorite parlor games of many politicians and too many public officials:  linguistic obfuscation.

She would not comment. It's a conscious decision. We should make clear to readers/users that's the case.

If an official says he or she can't comment, then the conversation should be like this:

Them: I'm sorry, I can't comment on that.

You: Why is that?

Them: It's an ongoing legal case.

You: Yes, but why can't you comment? Is there a policy or is this your decision.

Them: I just don't comment on ongoing cases.

You: OK, then you would not comment. I understand.

If, OTOH, there's this:

You: Yes, but why can't you comment? Is there a policy or is this your decision?

Them: Yes, we have a policy against commenting in such cases.

You: Oh, is that a written policy? Where can I get a copy of it?

Them: Uh ....

Then I'd probably still say the person would not comment and cited a (fill in your governing body) policy against talking about ongoing legal cases. (And you should continue pressing for that policy, just because ...)

If the person were able to produce details of that policy or say it was on the advice of a lawyer, etc., then "can't" is closer to acceptable. But you now know details of why and should tell folks.

And even then, I think I'd favor "would not" with the explanation.

The only times I think "cannot" is clearly called for is when there are legal repercussions if the person talks. So if the mayor says she can't comment because of a judge's gag order or she can't comment because state law says officials can't talk about such and such, then OK.

In most cases, whether to comment is a decision made with free will, which takes "would." Even with a "policy," a person usually is free to decide to ignore it. (All the time we use anonymous sources who are doing just that, don't we? So that little nicety doesn't seem to trouble us.)

"Can't" seldom should be used, and when it is it should always have solid explanation, not just a tossed-off stock phrase, because the subtle but important implication is that the decision is being taken out of the person's hands. If we acquiesce, it provides a veil of plausible deniability. It's a reason pols and public officials like to use it, just as they adore the passive ("mistakes were made").

Our job isn't to provide linguistic cover.


(Usage notes:

- The widely established form is "declined to", not just "declined," comment. You decline something offered to you (another piece of pie, perhaps), but you decline to offer something (in this case, a comment) to someone else. The argument could be that you are declining the chance to comment, shortened to declined comment, but that's really not the sense of the interaction. And why even use that bureaucratic form when "would not" is perfectly fine?

- Avoid "refused" - the connotation has overtones of malice on your part. But if you catch his or her honor carting away a bag of money and you ask what's up and all you get is stony silence, then, yeah, "refused" might fit the bill.)

(From the Common Sense Journalism blog.)

July 04, 2018

Four ways to get more involved in COMJIG

The 2018 AEJMC conference is just a month away! As you look forward to August, I hope you’ll consider getting more involved (or continuing your involvement) in the Community Journalism Interest Group. Here are four great ways to do that:

  1. Attend the annual COMJIG business meeting. This year’s business meeting will be Wednesday, Aug. 8, at 7 p.m. (location TBD). The business meeting is a great place to learn more about what COMJIG does. You can meet potential research collaborators, learn about publication/presentation opportunities, discuss opportunities to connect with community journalists, and more. Also consider attending our annual off-site social immediately following the business meeting. This year’s social will be at Brasserie Beck, located at 1101 K Street (just a few blocks from the conference hotel). 
  2. Volunteer for a leadership position. If you’d like to nominate yourself for one of our six leadership positions (they’re listed in the bar on the right), please send an email with your name and the job you’re interested in to COMJIG head Clay Carey by Monday, July 23. If you have questions about what the positions entail, please reach out to Clay or any of our current officers – they would be happy to help. We also welcome contact from folks who are interested in pitching in but not sure they want to commit to holding and office – if you want to contribute, we can find an opportunity for you.
  3. Develop a panel for 2019. It isn’t too early to start thinking about programming you’d like to see at next year’s conference. Interest group members traditionally begin brainstorming panel ideas for the following year’s conference at our annual business meeting. So if you have an idea for a panel on community journalism, bring it to the business meeting for some feedback. If you have a general concept and would like to refine it, we can do that as well. For that matter, come and participate even if you don’t have a panel to pitch – your expertise might be a great fit for someone else’s panel. 
  4. Write for the COMJIG blog. Do you have an idea for an article that would be of interest to COMJIG members? If so, email your pitch to Webmaster Doug Fisher

I hope to see you at the COMJIG business meeting next month!

Clay Carey

June 05, 2018

Zaitz wins Tom and Pat Gish Award for courage, integrity and tenacity in rural journalism

Les Zaitz
A longtime practitioner of accountability journalism, now making his weekly newspaper a model for investigative and enterprise reporting at the local level, is the winner of the 2017 Tom and Pat Gish Award from the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues.

Leslie "Les" Zaitz is editor and publisher the Malheur Enterprise in Vale, Oregon. His family bought the paper, which has a circulation of less than 2,000, to keep it from closing in 2015. In 2016, he became publisher after retiring from The Oregonian, where he had been the senior investigative reporter and winner of many awards, including finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting in 2014 for a 2013 series about Mexican drug cartels in the U.S.

In 2017, the Enterprise pursued the story of a former state hospital patient’s involvement in two murders and an assault in Malheur County shortly after his release. The newspaper discovered that the defendant had been released after convincing state officials he had faked mental illness for 20 years to avoid prison, and after mental-health experts warned he was a danger. The state Psychiatric Security Review Board sued Zaitz and the Enterprise to avoid complying with an order to turn over exhibits that the board had considered before authorizing the man’s release. Zaitz started a GoFundMe effort to pay legal fees, but then Gov. Kate Brown took the rare step of interceding in the case, ordering the lawsuit dropped and the records produced. Brown later named Zaitz one of three news-media representatives on the Oregon Public Records Advisory Council, which makes recommendations concerning the state public-records advocate.

The Enterprise’s efforts won Zaitz and his reporters, John Braese and Pat Caldwell, the 2018 Freedom of Information Award from Investigative Reporters and Editors. They beat out entries from much larger news outlets, including The Oregonian. The judges wrote that the series was a "classic David-meets-Goliath triumph," and showed "You don’t need a large staff and deep resources to move the needle on open records."

"That’s one reason Les Zaitz and the Enterprise are such a good choice for the Gish Award," said Al Cross, director of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, based at the University of Kentucky. "Doing good journalism in rural areas often requires more courage, tenacity and integrity than in cities, but the same state and federal laws apply, and Les knows how to use them for the public good." The Institute publishes The Rural Blog.

The Enterprise is not Zaitz’s first foray into rural journalism. From 1987 to 2000, he was owner and publisher of the weekly Keizertimes in Keizer, Oregon. His family still owns the paper, which consistently wins journalism awards, and much of his investigative reporting has been in rural Oregon. He is a five-time solo winner of the Bruce Baer Award, Oregon’s top award for investigative reporting. In 2016, the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association gave him its highest honor for career achievement, an award not given since 2010.

"Rural journalism is so critical to the American fiber, and even more so today when people are so hungry for a trusted news source," Zaitz said. "Small news outlets don't have to be bad news outlets, and I'm hoping our work in rural Oregon can in some modest way inspire others to redouble their efforts to provide quality journalism. That quality is not only a professional imperative, but a business one as well."

The Tom and Pat Gish Award is named for the late couple who published The Mountain Eagle at Whitesburg, Ky., for more than 50 years and became nationally known for their battles with coal operators and politicians, and the firebombing of their office by a Whitesburg policeman. Their son, Eagle Editor-Publisher Ben Gish, is on the award selection committee.

“Given the tenacity, courage and integrity Les Zaitz has shown during his career, it would be hard to find a more deserving winner of the award named in honor of my parents,” Gish said. “I find it more than just a little interesting that his father and my father ran statehouse bureaus for United Press [International].”

Past winners of the award have been the Gishes; the Ezzell family of The Canadian (Texas) Record; publisher Jim Prince and former publisher Stan Dearman of The Neshoba Democrat in Philadelphia, Miss.; Samantha Swindler, columnist for The Oregonian, for her work in rural Kentucky and Texas; Stanley Nelson and the Concordia Sentinel of Ferriday, La.; Jonathan and Susan Austin for their newspaper work in Yancey County, N.C.; the late Landon Wills of the McLean County News in western Kentucky; the Trapp family of the Rio Grande Sun in Española, N.M.; Ivan Foley of the Platte County Landmark in Platte City, Mo.; and the Cullen family of the Storm Lake Times in northwest Iowa.

Cross will present the 2018 Gish Award to Zaitz at the annual conference of the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors in Portland on July 11. Nominations for the 2019 Gish Award may be emailed at any time to al.cross@uky.edu.

May 15, 2018

Got Syllabi?

Hello, all.

I'm going to try one more time....

As the COMJIG Teaching Chair, I would like to create a new syllabus repository for community journalism educators. As a teacher, I value syllabus exchanges, and I know others do as well.

Therefore, if you have any community journalism syllabi you would like to share with the group, please email them to me at christina.smith1@gcsu.edu.

Thank you.

Christina

March 07, 2018

April 1 is deadline for nominations for Tom and Pat Gish Award for courage, integrity and tenacity in rural journalism

Tom and Pat Gish
Nominations are due April 1 for the Tom and Pat Gish Award, which annually recognizes the courage, integrity and tenacity that is so often necessary to provide good journalism in rural areas. The award, named for the crusading couple who published The Mountain Eagle in Whitesburg, Ky., for more than 50 years, is given by the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, which publishes The Rural Blog.

Nominations should measure up, at least in major respects, to records of earlier winners, available at www.RuralJournalism.org. For example, the Gishes 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. The most recent winners, the Cullen family of Iowa's Storm Lake Times, overcame obstacles to persevere in covering and commenting on water-pollution issues in Iowa, often to the dislike of agribusiness interests that are sources of much of the pollution.

Other winners have been the Ezzell family of The Canadian (Tex.) Record, in 2007; James E. Prince III and the late Stanley Dearman, current and former publishers of The Neshoba Democrat of Philadelphia, Miss., in 2008; Samantha Swindler of The Oregonian 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; in 2015, the Trapp family of the Rio Grande Sun in Española, N.M.; and in 2016, Ivan Foley of the Platte County Landmark in Missouri.

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 al.cross@uky.edu.

'Athens journalism institution' wins University of Georgia's new award for distinguished community journalism, named for him

Rollin M. “Pete” McCommons, editor and publisher of Flagpole magazine in Athens, Ga., is the namesake and first recipient of an award for distinguished community journalism from the University of Georgia's Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. The school plans to present the award annually, thanks to an endowment funded by friends of McCommons.

The award will recognize "the best in community journalism, as represented by small- to medium-sized daily and weekly news organizations who provide exemplary service to their communities," the school said in announcing the award.

Charles Davis, dean of the college, said, “Pete McCommons is an Athens journalism institution, the man who gave the Athens Observer its verve [after co-founding it in 1974] and who created Flagpole as an important countercultural voice of progressivism in the city. His unflagging spirit, his devotion to Athens and to journalism make him the ideal namesake for this new award.”

McCommons has been publisher of Flagpole since 1994. He recently published his first book, Pub Notes, a collection of his Flagpole columns of the same name. In his latest, he thanked the college and those who endowed the award and said, "After almost 50 years making up community journalism as we go along, getting this award from the Grady College is like being certified. It is huge."

February 26, 2018

Hello, all.

As the COMJIG Teaching Chair, I would like to create a new syllabus repository for community journalism educators. As a teacher, I value syllabus exchanges, and I know others do as well.

Therefore, if you have any community journalism syllabi you would like to share with the group, please email them to me at christina.smith1@gcsu.edu. I would like to develop the new repository this spring, just in time for fall 2018 preps. Please submit your syllabi by March 31.

Thank you.

Christina

February 03, 2018

Iowa's Cullens receive Gish Award for courage, integrity and tenacity in rural journalism; nominations for 2018 award sought

Art Cullen, left, and brother John hold award, after receiving it from IRJCI's Al Cross.
The Cullen family of the Storm Lake Times received the 2017 Tom and Pat Gish Award for courage, integrity and tenacity in rural journalism Friday at the Iowa Newspaper Association convention. The award, named for the crusading couple that published The Mountain Eagle in Whitesburg, Ky., for more than 50 years, recognizes the Cullen family's perseverance in covering and commenting on water-pollution issues in Iowa, often to the dislike of agribusiness interests that are sources of much of the pollution. For more on the Cullens, click here.

The Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, which gives the award and publishes The Rural Blog, is seeking nominations for the 2018 Gish Award, with a deadline of April 1. Nominations should measure up, at least in major respects, to the records of previous winners, which are detailed at www.RuralJournalism.org. For example, the Gishes 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 the late Stanley Dearman, current and former publishers of The Neshoba Democrat of Philadelphia, Miss., in 2008; Samantha Swindler of The Oregonian 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; in 2015, the Trapp family of the Rio Grande Sun in Española, N.M.; and in 2016, Ivan Foley of the Platte County Landmark in Missouri.

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 al.cross@uky.edu.

January 04, 2018

Monday is deadline for nominations for major journalism ethics award; nominate a community journalist!

By Al Cross
Director, Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues

Monday is the deadline to nominate journalists for the Anthony Shadid Award for Journalism Ethics, presented by The Center for Journalism Ethics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In the six years the award has been presented, none of the winners have been rural journalists. None may have been nominated, but I think there should be no shortage of qualified candidates because rural journalists frequently deal with ethical challenges. I teach my community journalism students that it is more difficult do do good journalism in rural areas, partly because of the constant conflict that rural journalists must deal with, between their professional responsibilities and their personal desires.

The Anthony Shadid Award recognizes ethical decisions in reporting stories in any journalistic medium, including print, broadcast and digital, by those working for established news organizations or publishing individually. It focuses on current journalism and does not include books, documentaries and other long-term projects. Entries must involve reporting for stories published or broadcast in 2017. Individuals or news organizations may nominate themselves or others.

Letters of nomination must include: Name and contact information of the nominators and their relationship to the story; names of the reporter or reporting team that produced the report; brief description of the story and a link to it online; description of conflicting values encountered in reporting the story; options considered to resolve the conflicts; and final decisions and rationales behind them. Nomination letters of three pages or less should be saved in pdf format and attached to an email sent to ethicsaward@journalism.wisc.edu. For more information, visit the website.

The award includes a $1,000 prize and travel expenses to accept the award and discuss the reporting at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., on April 5. It differs from most other journalism awards because it honors difficult decisions journalists make in pursuing high-impact stories while fulfilling their ethical obligations to their audience, their sources, and people caught up in news events. “The stories nominated are always phenomenal, but the committee makes the decision on the finalists and winners by considering how reporters and editors negotiated ethical dilemmas while reporting,” said Lucas Graves, chair of the judging committee.

The award is named for Anthony Shadid, a UW-Madison graduate who died in 2012 on a reporting assignment in Syria for The New York Times after winning two Pulitzer Prizes for foreign correspondence. He was a member of the ethics center’s advisory board and strongly supported its efforts to promote public interest journalism and to stimulate discussion about journalism ethics.

December 21, 2017

Cullen family of Iowa’s twice-weekly Storm Lake Times wins Tom and Pat Gish Award for courage, tenacity and integrity in rural journalism

Times photo: John, Mary Tom, Dolores and Art Cullen.
A Northwest Iowa family that has demonstrated courage, tenacity and integrity in the face of competition and powerful, entrenched local interests is the winner of the 2017 Tom and Pat Gish Award from the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues.

The Cullen family publishes the Storm Lake Times, a twice-weekly newspaper that has focused attention on water-pollution issues in Iowa, often to the dislike of agribusiness interests that are sources of much of the pollution.

“We’ve lost some friends, we’ve lost subscriptions; for a while, lost some ads,” said Art Cullen, editor and co-owner of the paper started by his brother John more than 27 years ago. This year Art Cullen won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing, for a series of columns about pollution in the Raccoon River, which supplies water for Iowa’s capital and largest city, Des Moines. He and his son Tom also wrote many news stories about the issue.

Following their reporting, the Des Moines Water Works sued the drainage districts of Buena Vista, Calhoun and Sac counties for failing to stop the pollution. The Times forced the release of public records that showed major agribusiness interests were paying for the suit’s defense. Courts ruled the districts couldn’t be sued, but the suit and the Pulitzer Prize focused more attention on the issue. Art Cullen says “The terms of the debate are changing,” and the amount of farmland in cover crops that prevent pollution has doubled in the past year.

Cullen’s Pulitzer-winning columns had punch. He wrote in March 2016, "Anyone with eyes and a nose knows in his gut that Iowa has the dirtiest surface water in America. It is choking the waterworks and the Gulf of Mexico. It is causing oxygen deprivation in Northwest Iowa glacial lakes. It has caused us to spend millions upon millions trying to clean up Storm Lake, the victim of more than a century of explosive soil erosion."

The Pulitzer committee said the editorials were “fueled by tenacious reporting, impressive expertise and engaging writing that successfully challenged powerful corporate agricultural interests.” Much of that reporting was done by Tom Cullen. Art’s wife, Dolores, also reports and takes photographs for the paper, and John’s wife, Mary, writes a recipe column. The family dog, Mabel, is there, too.

The Times began reporting and editorializing about pollution from farms about a year after it was established in June 1990, first looking at concentrated hog-farming operations. It has brought to light other environmental concerns, such as the need to dredge Storm Lake, and issues surrounding the livestock-processing plants that have brought many immigrants to Buena Vista County, in the heart of socially and politically conservative northwest Iowa.

In one of his most recent Editorial Notebooks, Art Cullen wrote, “Many of my ignorant friends conflate people of color with their having lost control of their own destiny; they don’t realize they never had control of it. It’s harder to hate the Chicago Board of Trade than it is a Mexican who doesn’t like American football or can’t speak English. They voted for Barack Obama to take on the Board of Trade and Wall Street. He didn’t,” so they voted for Donald Trump.

“That column is a sterling example of a rural editor speaking hard truths to power and to the people he serves,” said Al Cross, director of the Institute, based at the University of Kentucky. “The Storm Lake Times has long been known to those of us who follow rural journalism as a great example to emulate, and Art Cullen’s Pulitzer Prize merely confirmed that. We hope this award to the Cullen family will show that they have had high ideals and standards for a very long time.”

Cross noted that the paper is a commercial success, with a circulation of 3,000, more than the 1,700 reported by the thrice-weekly Storm Lake Pilot-Tribune, owned by Rust Communications of Cape Girardeau, Mo. “Unlike most weeklies, the Times gets most of its revenue from circulation, with a relatively high $60 annual subscription price,” Cross said. “That is testimony of community support for quality journalism, providing another example to follow.”

The Tom and Pat Gish Award is named for the late couple who published The Mountain Eagle at Whitesburg, Ky., for more than 50 years and became nationally known for their battles with coal operators and politicians, and the firebombing of their office by a Whitesburg policeman. Their son, Eagle Editor-Publisher Ben Gish, is on the award selection committee.

“It is encouraging to know that small, family-owned-and-operated community newspapers like the Storm Lake Times and Editor Art Cullen are still here and doing their jobs in very difficult circumstances with the same courage and tenacity exhibited by my parents,” Ben Gish said.

Past winners of the award have been the Gishes; the Ezzell family of The Canadian (Texas) Record; publisher Jim Prince and former publisher Stan Dearman of The Neshoba Democrat in Philadelphia, Miss.; Samantha Swindler, columnist for The Oregonian, for her work in rural Kentucky and Texas; Stanley Nelson and the Concordia Sentinel of Ferriday, La.; Jonathan and Susan Austin for their newspaper work in Yancey County, N.C.; the late Landon Wills of the McLean County News in western Kentucky; the Trapp family of the Rio Grande Sun in Española, N.M.; and Ivan Foley of the Platte County Landmark in Platte City, Mo.

Cross will present the 2017 Gish Award to the Cullen family at the annual convention of the Iowa Newspaper Association in Des Moines on Feb. 2. Nominations for the 2018 Gish Award are being accepted at 122 Grehan Journalism Building, University of Kentucky, Lexington KY 40506-0042 or via email to al.cross@uky.edu.

November 26, 2017

Call for Reviewers: AEJMC 2018

COMJIG's success in leading the conversation around community/local news and showcasing the best research emerging from scholars in the field every year is reliant on the help of its members who volunteer to review these papers. Thus, following the paper call in the last post, please find below a call for reviewers to sign up to help with reviewing manuscripts submitted to the group. Blind peer review by two to three reviewers is most useful (as we all know) and will not only help the authors--many of whom may be graduate students-- improve their papers for publication but also help improve the quality of research in community/local news.

Therefore, please consider signing up as Reviewer for COMJIG!Those who have submitted papers to COMJIG can sign up to review papers. The more volunteers COMJIG has, the better the quality of reviews as each reviewer will receive fewer papers. We will try our best to ensure that each reviewer receives about two to three papers for review.

If you kindly agree, please let me know via email of your interest in acting as reviewer for the group and include the following details:
1. Graduate Student: yes/no
2. Research Interests: _____________

You can send me a note on monica(dot)chadha(at)asu(dot)edu


I thank you in advance for your help and support for COMJIG!

Call for Papers: AEJMC Conference 2018

As a local/hyperlocal digital news researcher, the line "local newspapers are closing, digital news startups offer the promise of an uncertain but bright future..." or some such variation usually features in my writing. Recent closure of The Gothamist and DNAInfo has heightened the uncertain more than the bright future part. 

Current crises plaguing the industry-- technological advances, lack of revenue, growing mistrust, audience fragmentation and maybe more-- call for more  research in local and community news that not only studies the direction in which local journalism is headed but also maybe help pave this path for community/local newspapers and websites. 

Community Journalism Interest Group provides the perfect platform for submission, discussion and publication of issues and research that concerns and interests both, practitioners and scholars. With this in mind, please find below COMJIG's research paper call for 2018, as part of AEJMC's Uniform Paper Call. 


COMJIG CALL FOR PAPERS


The Community Journalism Interest Group invites scholarly submissions from faculty and graduate students for paper and poster sessions to be presented at the 2018 AEJMC national conference in Washington D.C. The papers should advance theory and/or practice in community/local journalism and can use a variety of methods and approaches. The deadline for paper submissions is April 1, 2018. 
Scope: The concept of community has expanded to more than just a group defined by physical proximity. In the digital age, communities also are defined by the strength of social relationships amongst individuals and the interests that bring them together, irrespective of their geographic location. COMJIG encourages submissions that address this diversity within and about communities and the role journalism plays in reporting about as well as informing these communities. Research topics may include, but are not restricted to:
  • How and if news organizationsprint and digital-- fulfill a communitys critical information needs
  • How news organizations build audiences within their communities with or without use of technologies such as social media
  • Audience engagement with local/community news
  • How community newspapers thrive or struggle to survive in present times and changes, if any, in community journalistic practices in the digital age
  • How journalism entrepreneurs juggle advertising with community news reporting
  • The effects of the closure of community news outletsprint and online on communities, specifically those in news deserts
  • Conceptual ideas that push the meaning and our understanding of community in new directions
Awards: The Group awards top papers in the faculty and student categories. The authors of these papers will be invited to publish their manuscripts to COMJIGs official, peer-reviewed publication, Community Journalism. Others also are encouraged to send  their work to the journal for consideration.

Submission guidelines:
Format: Paper submissions should include a 100 to 150-word abstract and should not exceed 8000 words, including references, tables and notes. All papers should conform to APA style, Sixth edition. Papers must be typed in 12-point font using Times New Roman and paper text must be double-line spaced with 1-inch margins around each page. The pages should be continuously numbered. Tables or figures can be included within or at the end of the paper. References should An author can submit more than one paper to COMJIG but no more than two manuscripts. All submissions will be subjected to a blind peer review. 
Author Identification: All authors and co-authors should include their information when registering on the online system. It is the authors responsibility to ensure that no identifying information is included anywhere in the paper or the properties section of the pdf document or it will be disqualified from the conference. Thus, authors are encouraged to submit early to fully check their submissions in the system for self-identifying information and any other technical glitches so they can resubmit their manuscripts, if necessary, before the system closes on deadline. Please follow the directions provided in submitting a clean paper section under the uniform paper call on the AEJMC website. 
Student Submissions: Graduate students are encouraged to submit papers to the group. Student authors should clearly mark their papers by including the phrase STUDENT SUBMISSION on the title page to be considered for the student paper competition. These papers should be authored by students only and not include any faculty co-authors.
Uploading Manuscripts: The papers should be submitted to COMJIG via a link on the AEJMC website. Please see the AEJMCs paper competition uniform call for more information.

Presentation Requirement: For the manuscript to be considered for presentation in the panel or poster session at the conference, at least one of the authors must attend in person to talk about the research. An exception may be made for papers with ONLY student authors; if the graduate students are unable to attend, then they must arrange for someone else to present the research on their behalf.

Questions, Concerns, Clarifications? Please contact COMJIG Research Committee Chair Monica Chadha, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism & Mass Communication, ASU, at monica.chadha(AT)asu(DOT)edu.

I really hope you will consider sharing your research with other like-minded scholars who are interested in the same issues as you through COMJIG! 

October 26, 2017

Family-owned firm, started 3 years ago, is already 6th largest owner of U.S. papers

From The Rural Blog

Adams Publishing Group, a newspaper firm that is barely three years old, has bought more than 100 small dailies, weeklies and shoppers in at least 15 separate transactions," Poynter Institute media-business analyst Rick Edmonds writes for the Iowa Newspaper Association's INA Bulletin. That makes it the nation's sixth-largest owner of newspapers, according to a March 2017 report by Visiting Professor Carol Wolf for the University of North Carolina's Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media. About half its papers are in Minnesota, where it is based.

Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media map; click on it to enlarge
"In contrast to other big consolidators, they often leave existing management in place, do not impose cookie-cutter content templates, and do not start by stripping down newsrooms of editors and reporters," Edmonds reports.

One example is its purchase of Jones Media, a Greeneville, Tenn.-based chain that was in its fourth generation of family ownership until patriarch John Jones died in 2016 and his descendants forced a sale over the objection of CEO Gregg Jones. He "chose to stay and has nothing but good things to say about the company," Edmonds reports, quoting him: "I'm working harder and enjoying myself more than I ever have. . . . These are the kind of people we want buying newspapers."

CEO Mark Adams rarely speaks
publicly about the firm he runs.
Edmonds couldn't elicit comment from the company, and called it "secretive." The firm is part of a diversified portfolio owned by "billionaire investor Stephen Adams and his family," who "have flown largely under the radar, unknown to those outside the industry," the UNC report says. "The company looks to buy non-metro publications where the newspapers or groups have revenue of about $10 million, said Larry Grimes, of W.B. Grimes & Co., a Gaithersburg, Md.-based mergers-and-acquisitions advisory firm specializing in media properties. Adams Publishing looks for large niche markets and buys within a geographic region. So far, the company has focused primarily on purchasing papers in the Midwest, but it owns publications as far east as the Jersey shore."

October 15, 2017

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 seeking proposals for papers that provide insight and guidance on general issues and/or everyday problems confronting community newspapers and their newsrooms.

This competition is an extension of the 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 and final selection of the papers to be written will be made by a panel of working and retired community journalists who will evaluate the proposals on the basis of 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 be selected for presentation at the 2019 ISWNE conference in Atlanta, Georgia. The ISWNE Foundation will provide the author with complimentary registration for that conference, as well as a partial subsidy for travel. Proposals from graduate students are encouraged.

The deadline for proposals is Jan. 19, 2018. The full call for proposals and instructions for authors can be found here

September 20, 2017

Call for Panel Proposals, 2018 AEJMC Conference in Washington, D.C.

The Community Journalism interest group is now accepting panel proposals for the 2018 AEJMC conference in Washington, D.C.


There are three types of panel proposals you can submit: Professional Freedom & Responsibility (PF&R), Teaching and Research. All division members must submit their panel proposals by Oct. 1 to richjohnson@creighton.edu. Use the panel proposal template below a guide for writing your proposal.

Tips for preparing a panel proposal:

- Ideally, panels will be joint submissions with another AEJMC division or interest group. Therefore, you might try to develop a joint proposal with someone from another division/interest group. You are not required to develop a joint proposal - we can help you find someone from another division who might be willing to assist with your proposal.

- Joint panels should include members representing both divisions/interest groups submitting. For example, if COMJ is the lead sponsor on the panel, include three COMJ members and two members from the other division/interest group. Having a panel consisting entirely of COMJ members will not disqualify you from having your panel accepted, but we will give preference to joint submissions.

- Suggest important findings that attendees may take from your panel. For example, will the panel help attendees integrate aspects of community journalism into their classrooms? Will the panel help them understand research on theories of group identity? Try to explain the impact your panel will have on the division as well as AEJMC as a whole.

We will notify you in December if your panel proposal was accepted. Please let me know if you have any questions, and feel free to reach out at any time if you have questions about programming for next year's conference. 


2018 AEJMC Conference Panel Proposal

Panel Title:

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

Panel Sponsorship: Community Journalism Interest Group (also, please list possible co-sponsors)

Description of Panel: Generally 150-250 words. Remember to discuss potential impact of the panel on COMJ and AEJMC’s broader membership.



Possible Panelists:
List up to five, including affiliation and contact information. Please indicate whether you have already contacted prospective panelists about participating.

Moderator:

Contact:
Your name, affiliation, daytime phone and email address