Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Rural paper delivers bad census news frankly

How does a community newspaper deliver bad news about the community as a whole? Straight from the shoulder, not mincing words and getting responsible reaction from knowledgeable sources. That's what Jeff Noble, editor of the Times-Voice in Jackson, Ky., did when he found that Breathitt County had the largest percentage population loss in 2000-2010 of any county in the state, 13.8 percent.

(Wikipedia map) "The 2010 Census figures are out, and they weren't kind to Breathitt County," Noble wrote. "Many say the lack of jobs here, and a better quality of life in the Bluegrass region, are the real reason for the population decline."

As commentary on covering this topic, this blog item is too late for most places, since almost all states have received their preliminary census figures, but Noble's story takes a good approach and also illustrates an all-too-familiar rural trend: Most young people who leave rural areas to attend college don't come back. The Times-Voice has no website, so we have posted the story on the website of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, here.

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