May 01, 2020

Community Newspaper Holdings closes weeklies in northeastern Kentucky; will send subscribers daily once a week; university town 55 miles away has no newspaper

By Al Cross, director and professor
Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, University of Kentucky

One of the largest chains of community newspapers, Community Newspaper Holdings Inc., has undertaken an unusual consolidation of its northeastern Kentucky weeklies into a daily.

"Welcome to a change," read the April 29 headline in The Morehead News, over a message from Group Publisher Patty Bennett, informing readers that the paper "will merge with our sister newspaper, The Daily Independent in Ashland," because of lack of advertising during the pandemic. "The Daily Independent will undertake coverage of Morehead." In other words, Morehead, a university town of 7,000 in a county of 25,000, no longer has a local newspaper.

A similar message appeared in the Grayson Journal-Enquirer and the Olive Hill Times, essentially the same paper with slightly different content, in Carter County, between Morehead and Ashland. CHNI also killed off the Greenup County News-Times, a weekly in another county adjoining Ashland and Boyd County; it's in the metropolitan area of Ashland and Huntington, W.Va.; Carter County is not, though it is oriented to Ashland. Rowan County is neither; Morehead is 55 miles from Ashland, and 65 miles from downtown Lexington.

Many dailies have swallowed up sister weeklies, but it's unusual if not unprecedented for such a consolidation over such a distance. It dismayed people in Morehead, home to Morehead State University and some recent economic developments, including a huge complex of greenhouses intended to provide vegetables to the Eastern U.S.

"This county has been booming," said Keith Kappes, a former MSU spokesman who was publisher of the News for six years. He said a local economic developer told him, "I can't say to a prospect, we've got everything you want in a small town, except a newspaper."

"There's kind of a shock effect," Kappes told The Rural Blog. "How are we gonna follow our schools, our athletics? How are we gonna be informed about what's going on in the community, how are we gonna know the good things and the needs?... If you don't have a newspaper in your community, how backward are you?"

Kappes said that when he became the paper's publisher in 2010, it was making nearly $500,000 a year, a figure that gradually declined to $180,000 by the time he left three years ago. "Even at this low ebb, The Morehead News was still profitable," he said. "I know that from the people who work there." He said the other papers were not. Bennett said she couldn't comment, but said she would pass along the request to company headquarters in Montgomery, Ala. CNHI is owned by the Retirement Systems of Alabama.

Bennett told subscribers that they would receive each Wednesday's Independent "and a special offer to subscribe. They will also be able to sample local, regional and state news about the covid-19 pandemic and other news and sports on The Daily Independent’s website, We hope this experience will result in your subscribing to the merged newspaper and its robust website." She said subscribers who wanted refunds could ask for them by email, and invited readers to ask her questions "about our restructuring plan."

Kappes said he is talking to people in Morehead who want the town to have its own newspaper. "Its a source of pride," he said. "I think we're gonna end up with a 24/7 online newspaper that may publish once a week" in order to qualify for public-notice advertising, he said. Under Kentucky law, the newspaper with the largest bona fide circulation in a county gets the "legal ads," but if a county does not have a paper, only those in adjoining counties qualify, so the Daily Independent does not. The Kentucky Press Association explains the details and reports on newspaper frequency changes.

March 30, 2020

AEJMC accepts extended abstracts for 2020 conference

2020 Extended Abstract
AEJMC accepts extended abstracts for 2020 conference

In light of the extraordinary and historic disruptions to the lives of faculty members and graduate students as a result of the spread of the COVID-19 virus, AEJMC will accept extended abstracts as well as full papers in all divisions and interest groups for the 2020 conference.

The extended abstract format is suitable for authors who are sufficiently along in the research process to address the content elements described below, but have not had sufficient time to prepare the full paper. The extended abstracts must be at least 750 words long but no more than 1,500 words. Extended abstracts must include a reference list and a 75-word summary of the abstract. (The reference list and summary are not included in the word count). Extended abstracts may be submitted to only one division or interest group.  Extended abstracts must be uploaded as a single file to the AEJMC All-Academic site by the existing conference deadline of 11:59 p.m. CDT April 9, 2020.  Authors whose extended abstracts are selected for presentation at the conference must still submit their full paper, with all identifying author information, to the All-Academic site by 11:59 p.m. CDT, July 15, 2020.

To preserve the value of fully developed research papers, long a hallmark of the AEJMC conference, extended abstracts will not be eligible for division, interest group, or conference-wide awards. Divisions and interest groups can program extended abstracts as they see fit in regular paper sessions, high density sessions, or poster sessions, and will specify allotted presentation time as appropriate. Extended abstract submissions will be designated as such in the conference program. Finally, this new format is not one intended for future AEJMC conferences.

Content and Formatting Guidelines

1)     As noted above, length of extended abstracts must be at least 750 words but no more than 1,500 words. A 75-word (max.) summary of the abstract should precede the abstract itself. References and summary are excluded from the word count.

2)     Extended abstracts should contain all of the same content sections/elements that would normally be used in the division or interest group's paper submissions, including the study's purpose, literature review, research questions and/or hypotheses, method, findings and discussion/conclusion. The main difference, however, is the length of this submission format.

3)     For authors considering the extended abstract option, data collection and analysis must be at least 75% complete in order to meaningfully report tentative findings and conclusions. Authors should clearly report in the Method and Findings sections how far along the data collection and analysis phases are, respectively, and explain what steps remain and the anticipated value/contribution of these steps, so that reviewers can assess the foundations on which conclusions are based. Extended abstracts will be reviewed and scored using the same evaluation rubrics as currently used for full papers, but will be evaluated as to how well each of the criteria are achieved given the relative length of an extended abstract.

4)     When submitting in this format, authors must include the words "Extended Abstract" at the start of their paper title (e.g., "Extended Abstract: [Your paper title]"). Authors should clearly indicate the same on the title page of their submission. Submissions that are not appropriately labeled may be rejected.

5)     When creating the file for upload, please insert the 75-word summary of the abstract at the beginning of the extended abstract, so that this is what readers and reviewers see first.

6)     As with full paper submissions, please ensure all identifying author information has been removed for extended abstract submissions and that title pages do not contain author information. Please reference the AEJMC Uniform Paper Call for information about how to ensure this information is removed in order to ensure a blind review.

7)     Other than the extended abstract format (including length differences) and ineligibility for award competitions, all other AEJMC Uniform Paper Guidelines apply. Please review these at

March 24, 2020

AEJMC Updates Research Paper Submissions Guidelines for San Francisco 2020

Hello, all.

Today, AEJMC shared updated guidelines for research paper submissions. Here are the details:

"Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, various academic organizations are either cancelling their annual conferences or holding virtual-only conferences. Authors who have submitted papers to these conferences, such as BEA, are seeking guidance, along with their organizational leadership, regarding AEJMC's position on paper submissions that have originated from these other conferences. The following guidelines seek to provide clarity to help affected authors make informed decisions prior to the AEJMC paper competition deadline.

The AEJMC Board of Directors has approved the following:

  1. A paper may be submitted to the AEJMC paper competition if it has officially been withdrawn from another conference and has not been presented in any format.

  1. A paper that has been presented virtually, or will have been presented virtually to another conference, cannot be submitted to AEJMC for presentation.

  1. Consistent with past AEJMC practices, papers presented at AEJMC’s own regional conferences (currently the AEJMC Midwinter Meeting and the AEJMC Southeast Colloquium) can be submitted, after revision, for consideration for presentation at the national conference.

Questions regarding the AEJMC Paper Submission process may be emailed to the AEJMC Research Committee at"

This year's paper deadline is April 9. For more information, visit AEJMC's website.

March 16, 2020

AEJMC extends paper submission deadline


Please be aware AEJMC has extended the paper submission deadline for the 2020 conference to April 9. If you have questions, please refer to AEJMC.

February 19, 2020

Hot off the press: Journalism devotes a special issue to small-market news. You can find the issue here.

February 06, 2020

Clay Carey's book noted in Nicholas Lemann's 'Can Journalism Be Saved?' piece in NYR

The Feb. 27 issue of the New York Review of Books has a feature article by Nicholas Lemann, "Can Journalism be Saved?", that cites 14 books, including The News Untold: Community Journalism and the Failure to Confront Poverty in Appalachia, by our esteemed colleague, Michael Clay Carey. Here's what the dean emeritus of the journalism faculty at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism had to say about Clay's work:

"Michael Clay Carey’s The News Untold, an ethnographic study of journalism in three small rural Appalachian communities, offers the hope that such papers could draw badly needed attention to poverty. His own careful research demonstrates how pathetically under-resourced these papers are. Carey interviews the owner of one of his small-town papers in the barbershop where he cuts hair three days a week, because the paper can’t support him full time; the paper’s editorial staff, consisting of one person who was hired through a temporary employment agency, is also part-time. Carey’s call for the papers to become less boosterish and more “inclusive” in their coverage is affecting, but with what resources would they undertake this? It would be possible to ask poor people to tell their own stories in such papers, but that wouldn’t be much different from starting a group conversation online. As [Michael] Schudson asks [in Why Journalism Still Matters], “What news items have the president or the Congress, governors or mayors, or corporate executives been forced by law or public opinion to respond to?” Outside of work produced by news organizations, “Little or none, I suspect.” In poor small towns, far more than in Washington, such reporting requires subsidy."

And there's no one to subsidize it. Not the audience, which is penurious, aging and migrating out. Not the advertisers, who have been savaged by big-box stores, Amazon and the internet, and are disappearing. Not the philanthropies, who have never really understood rural America and sure as heck don't understand rural journalism. If that sounds like a gripe from someone who has failed to raise much money from them, it is, but it's also an admission of failure to educate them. Now they and rural America will learn the hard way; in the last three years, I have seen the finances of rural weeklies begin to take the same sort of hits from ad losses that their metro cousins took a decade ago. More than ever, they must make themselves essential servants to their communities, and make sure those communities understand their value.

January 15, 2020

AEJMC's COMJIG announces paper call for August 2020 conference

AEJMC's Community Journalism Interest Group invites scholarly submissions from faculty and graduate students for paper and poster sessions to be presented at the 2020 AEJMC national conference in San Francisco, California, USA. 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, 2020. 

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(s) journalism plays in reporting about as well as informing these communities. COMIG also encourages submissions that provide action-oriented insight into trends and issues facing community journalism outlets that would be of use to practitioners in community journalism industries.
Research topics may include, but are not restricted to:
·       How and if news organizations—print and digital-- fulfill a community’s critical
information needs
·       How news organizations build audiences within their communities with or without
use of technologies such as social media
·       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 outlets—print and online on communities, specifically those in news deserts
·       How news organizations create and engage with communities through innovative practices
·       Conceptual ideas that push the meaning and our understanding of community
in new directions
·       Conceptual ideas that explore the meaning and interpretation of “local news”
in a global era

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 COMJIG’s 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. References must be provided. Tables or figures can be included within or at the end of the paper. 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 author’s 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 AEJMC’s 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 Christina Smith, assistant professor of communication at Georgia College and State University, at

January 12, 2020

McConnell backs anti-trust exemption for newspapers to negotiate compensation from Facebook and Google

Dink NeSmith, CEO of Community Newspapers Inc.: "If you
let them get milk through the fence, they’ll never buy the cow.”
At the most polarized time in American politics since the Civil War, and more notably when the news media have become targets of both sides (but mainly one), there is bipartisan agreement in Congress to help newspapers cut a deal with Google and Facebook -- and it includes some powerful and influential members.

The legislation would give newspapers a four-year exemption from anti-trust laws to negotiate with the internet platforms that profit from their journalism but have cost them much of the advertising revenue that has been the main source of money to pay for that journalism. It got a big boost last week with co-sponsorship by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. Its prime sponsor is Rep. Doug Colllins of Georgia, who as ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee led the defense of President Trump in the impeachment hearings.

“I am a free-markets guy and have fought against the idea that just because something is big it is necessarily bad,” Collins told Cecilia Kang of The New York Times. “But look, I’m a politician and live with the media and see its importance. These big, disruptive platforms are making money off creators of content disproportionately.”

Facebook and Google declined the Times' requests for comment on the legislation, but "The companies say their businesses have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on programs to bolster local journalism," Kang writes. "The companies also work with news organizations to promote their articles and videos, driving traffic to their websites." Google told her, “Every month, Google News and Google Search drive over 24 billion visits to publishers’ websites, which drive subscriptions and significant ad revenue.”

Kang writes from Georgia, a good choice because 29 of its 159 counties don't have a local paper. She focuses first on Dink NeSmith, CEO of Community Newspapers Inc., which owns 24 papers, mainly in Georgia, several in Collins' district and recently showed its worth through coverage that blocked a coal-ash landfill. But on breaking daily news that lives mainly on social media, newspapers get little recognition or money, Kang notes. NeSmith quotes one of his grandmothers: “Honey, if you let them get milk through the fence, they’ll never buy the cow.”

November 19, 2019

Understanding College/Media Partnerships: Call for Participants

Dear Colleagues,  

Lara Salahi, assistant professor of broadcast and digital journalism at Endicott College, and Christina Smith, assistant professor of mass communication at Georgia College, are preparing to launch a research project that explores how student media organizations/communication departments are working to fill information gaps produced by news voids in the U.S.

The study specifically aims to understand the sustainability of these partnerships between college and/or university groups and professional newsrooms as they produce content that assists in filling news voids.

We are asking for your help with the initial creation of a list of colleges and/or universities that have established an organization and/or created a partnership with off-campus newsrooms of any medium.

If your college/university, or if you know of a college/university that has created such an organization and/or partnership, please send an email to Lara or Christina (emails are below) with the following information:

1.     Name of college or university
2.    Name & contact information for person (professor, media adviser, department chair, etc.) within college or university to discuss the partnership
3.     Name of media organization/outlet with whom the college or university has a partnership
4.     Length of partnership


Lara and Christina

Lara Salahi, Ed.D.
Assistant Professor of Broadcast and Digital Journalism
Endicott College

Christina C. Smith, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Communication
Georgia College & State University
(478) 445-8267

October 22, 2019

Pew's latest on "local news"

Here's Pew's latest report on "local news." The premise of the report: "Amid the steady decline in local news, some states are considering stepping in to support the Fourth Estate. But critics worry that doing so might undermine the press’s role as a government watchdog."

September 13, 2019

Please help with ideas for teaching panels for AEJMC 2020

I know, I know.
Everyone is busy with their semesters and the last thing many of you are thinking about is more work.
However, I’m here to ask you to do just that. We’re nearing the deadline to submit proposals for AEJMC 2020. Specifically, I would like to ask that those of you consider submitting something about teaching.
Teaching is something at the core of all our missions, and last year’s sessions relating to teaching were some of the best-attended within our division. Additionally, we’re entering a time with great change within community journalism.
Community outlets, primarily weeklies continue to shut down, online publications continue to attempt to fill some of the role left from traditional outlets. Topics like hyperlocal news coverage, the role of journalism programs in helping cover communities, and even why more universities don’t teach community journalism are topics that would seem ready for discussion.
But remember the goal is to hear from you. I’m hoping to see your ideas, find out what others are interested in as it relates to teaching. Also don’t be shy about proposing a role for yourself, if it’s your idea. We need people who are passionate to help us with organizing these panels.
Remember that your ideas now will influence the program, and possible give you a reason to go.
Remember any ideas can be sent to Jeffrey Riley at or feel free to contact me at Time is running short though. The deadline for ideas is Sunday. We look forward to hearing from you.