Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Weekly editors are asked to write about communities having enough people to perform necessary civic duties

In many rural communities there is a growing shortage of young people to perform the collective civic duties that make a community work: civic clubs, government boards, volunteer fire departments and other emergency services. Rural journalists, if you have noticed this trend in your community and haven't written about it -- or have, and think you need to again -- here's a prompt from Brian Wilson, news editor of The Star News in Medford, Wis., and Chad Stebbins, executive director of the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors.

Wilson, left, "suggested that we devote either the Fall or Winter issue of Grassroots Editor to the topic of service and leadership for the next generation," Stebbins told ISWNE members today. "His premise: As part of a generational shift, rural communities are not seeing younger people step up to participate in service organizations (Lions, Kiwanis, Rotary, etc.), which is leaving a leadership gap. Examples include longtime community organizations and events disappearing, seats on local boards and councils going unfilled, and a decline in civic ownership."

Wilson, a winner of ISWNE's Golden Dozen award for editorial writing, asks, “Basically, who is going to run the Kiwanis Club popcorn stand when Bob gets too old to stand there for 10 hours at the 4th of July or who is going to stand up and take a place on a local town council?”

Stebbins urges rural journalists to "write a column or editorial addressing the issue as it applies to your own community and offering a possible solution" and email it to him by Sept. 7. His invitation was originally to ISWNE members, but at our request he has broadened it to include readers of The Rural Blog. We'll excerpt and link to some of the best.

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