The Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues continues to provide resources to a wide variety of policy makers and journalists.
In its first six months of full implementation, the Institute has organized or is planning five conferences covering topics such as health care and health in mid-Appalachia and journalism’s role in community building. The conferences are to take place over the next eight months. The director of the Institute, based at the University of Kentucky, and one of its academic partners at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are offering courses that include reporting on the future of tobacco communities after the end of the federal tobacco program.
The Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues was established in 2001 with seed grants of $25,000 from the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation of the Society of Professional Journalists and $30,000 from the Appalachian Regional Commission. These were followed by a grant of $250,000 from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and $50,000 from the Ford Foundation.
The purpose of the Institute is to help non-metropolitan journalists better interpret regional, national and rural issues for their communities and to focus attention on economic, environmental and cultural issues that affect residents of rural America, beginning with those living in Appalachia.
As part of the grant from the Knight Foundation, newspapers in Central Appalachia will be surveyed about their needs for training. Plans are being developed to undertake a study of local radio news coverage in Kentucky with the possibility of expanding the survey to neighboring states.