Director, Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues
Fifteen years ago, when I roamed Kentucky as political writer for The Courier-Journal, the Louisville newspaper had reporters in most regions of the state, and in almost every county seat there was someone who knew a C-J reporter to call when a local official was involved in hanky-panky.
Today, like almost all other metropolitan papers, The C-J has a news bureau only in the state capital. That has left a gap in rural watchdog reporting that we have encouraged local newspapers to fill since I became the Institute's first director almost 12 years ago. More recently, a nonprofit investigative unit has helped fill the gap.
|Screenshot: KYCIR also investigates state government. For its site, click here.|
"For KYCIR, people are the ultimate metric," Kanik writes. "It isn’t people as a whole that matter, but individuals. Perhaps it comes from taking part in the LPM annual pledge drives, where McCarthy and the KYCIR staff get to interact with people on a more personal basis, rather than just through the normal letters to the editor or comments on a web page. Every tip, every phone call, every letter is recorded and replied to. . . . It’s an approach that seems to be working. By reaching out to individuals — replying to encouraging letters and making sure their content is accessible even to those Kentuckians without Internet access and those who live outside the range of the Louisville Public Media radio station — KYCIR is creating a following of hyper-loyal, extremely concerned citizens."