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Into the Issues by Al Cross

Al Cross edited and managed rural newspapers before covering politics for the Louisville Courier Journal and serving as president of the Society of Professional Journalists. He is a journalism professor at the University of Kentucky and director of its Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, which publishes The Rural Blog at

Pandemic payoffs: sample copies and public notices

The main issue facing the country and most of our communities is what it has been for more than a year: the coronavirus. We are in what is almost certainly the last chapter, immunization — but this ...

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Al Smith’s journalism was one of good faith, now often missing

Al Smith, my friend and mentor who died March 19 after a very full life, was known best in Kentucky as the host of a TV show on which journalists gathered to hash out the week’s news and as one of ...

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The pandemic has made Americans more interested in health issues

The coronavirus pandemic could actually make America healthier in the long run by prompting reinvestment in its eroded public-health system, Joanne Kenen, executive health-care editor of Politico, wrote ...

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Be a leader, and stand up for the truth

“Recent weeks and months have taught us a painful lesson. There is truth and there are lies. Lies told for power and for profit. And each of us has a duty and a responsibility, as citizens, as Americans, ...

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Go beyond the data and science of COVID-19, write the stories of people affected

With winter and the holiday season here, the virus is out of control, especially in rural areas, and we’re more at risk than ever — partly because millions of Americans have mistaken beliefs ...

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News organizations across the country receiving pushback for reporting coronavirus statistics

Just as some people are tiring of taking precautions against the novel coronavirus, helping it spread, I'm sure some newsrooms are tiring of covering it. And that helps it spread, too, by making it seem ...

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If you produce good journalism, you can get direct contributions from readers

A new maxim — or is it a mandate? — of the newspaper business is “Get more revenue from your audience.” But that doesn’t have to come entirely in the form of higher subscription ...

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Postmaster general says some changes delayed mail, vows extra effort to get ballots delivered timely; backs 6-day mail

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy acknowledged in sworn testimony before a Senate committee this morning that his changes in the U.S. Postal Service have delayed delivery of some mail, but he said ...

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Amid bad news, here’s an idea

A permanent solution to a temporary problem

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Bold, persistent experimentation is needed

We must repeatedly explain that news outlets offer journalism, which has a discipline of verification: we emphasize facts, attribute opinion and clearly separate the two.

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Open-records battles — a good topic for Sunshine Week; will the census count rural America well?

“What happens when the news is gone?” The New Yorker magazine asked in January, in its headline over a long story about the failing local-news ecosystem in Jones County, North Carolina. It ...

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Into the Issues: Research in old community newspapers shows value of printed page and granular local reporting

When Jim Phillips of Lexington, Kentucky, started poring through microfilm copies of old newspapers to research his family history, he thought it would be “a legacy to be left for my family and others, ...

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It's a buyer's market for community weeklies, but buyers are needed; how about it, refugees from metropolitan papers?

That’s not true of most community newspapers because they are the sole, reliable source of news about their communities, and most of them “are doing fine financially,” says Kevin Slimp, ...

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Counteract stigma with reporting; localize national rural health issues

The folks at Oak Ridge said local news media can counteract stigma with reporting. 

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Community apathy led to death of Warroad (Minnesota) Pioneer

“He said he spent a week in Warroad, talking to locals about the paper closing. He admitted that most folks, outside of the Pioneer staff and their husbands, didn't seem too broken up about it.”

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Newspapers must adapt, be reliable and relevant

The story had a strong central basis, the research of Penny Abernathy and her colleagues at the University of North Carolina. 

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Newspapers need to explain 'how we work'

There’s a war on journalism in America, and it’s not just being waged in Washington, D.C.

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