Saturday, February 03, 2018

Gish Award for 2017 is presented to Cullen family of Iowa; nominations for 2018 award are being sought

Art Cullen, left, and brother John hold the award after receiving it from Institute for Rural Journalism Director Al Cross.
The Cullen family of the Storm Lake Times received the 2017 Tom and Pat Gish Award for courage, integrity and tenacity in rural journalism Friday at the Iowa Newspaper Association convention. The award, named for the crusading couple that published The Mountain Eagle in Whitesburg, Ky., for more than 50 years, recognizes the Cullen family's perseverance in covering and commenting on water-pollution issues in Iowa, often to the dislike of agribusiness interests that are sources of much of the pollution. For more on the Cullens, click here.

The Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, which gives the award and publishes The Rural Blog, is seeking nominations for the 2018 Gish Award, with a deadline of April 1. Nominations should measure up, at least in major respects, to the records of previous winners, which are detailed at For example, the Gishes withstood advertiser boycotts, business competition, declining population, personal attacks, and even the burning of their office to give their readers the kind of journalism often lacking in rural areas, and were the first winners of the award named for them.

Other winners have been the Ezzell family of The Canadian (Tex.) Record, in 2007; James E. Prince III and the late Stanley Dearman, current and former publishers of The Neshoba Democrat of Philadelphia, Miss., in 2008; Samantha Swindler of The Oregonian in 2010 for her work as editor of the Corbin, Ky., Times-Tribune and managing editor of the Jacksonville (Tex.) Daily Progress; in 2011, Stanley Nelson and the Concordia Sentinel of Ferriday, La.; in 2012, Jonathan and Susan Austin of the Yancey County News in Burnsville, N.C.. in 2014, the late Landon Wills of Kentucky's McLean County News; in 2015, the Trapp family of the Rio Grande Sun in EspaƱola, N.M.; and in 2016, Ivan Foley of the Platte County Landmark in Missouri.

Nominators should send detailed letters to Institute Director Al Cross, explaining how their nominees show the kind of exemplary courage, tenacity and integrity that the Gishes demonstrated in their rigorous pursuit of rural journalism. Detailed documentation does not have to accompany the nomination, but is helpful in choosing finalists, and additional documentation may be requested or required. Questions may be directed to Cross at 859-257-3744 or

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