Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Our plea on Giving Tuesday: No one else does what we do for journalism, at a time when it needs your support

By Al Cross, Director, IRJCI, and Professor of Journalism, University of Kentucky

So, out of all the folks asking for money on #GivingTuesday, why should you support the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, publisher of The Rural Blog?

First, no one else does what we do. We deliver a daily digest of events, trends, issues, ideas and journalism, from and about rural America, to thousands of rural journalists who want to look beyond the county line and help their audiences understand broader issues and how they affect them.

Each month, we produce a column, usually based on the blog, for the National Newspaper Association, the leading organization for rural newspapers, and we work closely with NNA on issues that affect community papers, such as the recent proposal to have farmers wanting migrant workers advertise the jobs online instead of local papers.

Several times a year, I speak to state or national groups about rural journalism. This year, that included three panels at Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communications convention. Early this year, my book chapter, “Trump and non-metropolitan America: An urbanite saw a rural base where pollsters and journalists didn’t,” was published by Routledge in The Trump Presidency, Journalism and Democracy, edited by Robert (Ted) Gutsche Jr.

Bumper stickers are available from the Institute for $1 apiece.
At a time when some people question the whole concept of independent journalism, the Institute increasingly plays a role in explaining and defending it. One example is our bumper sticker that makes the point that someone has to pay for journalism. In The Rural Blog, we write about the challenges facing community newspapers and journalism, including ways to explain and defend the profession. To that end, we have started a series of “Fake News Forums” in towns around Kentucky, and hope to make it a model for the nation.

Our work is only partly supported by my faculty line at the university. We are able to publish The Rural Blog because the Institute has an endowment that gives us money for year-round travel, programming and a half-time assistant. But we rely increasingly on gifts that go directly into our operating budget of about $200,000 a year, so we need your support.

To donate to our endowment via credit card, click here. To give to our operating fund, send a check to IRJCI, 343 S. Martin Luther King Blvd., University of Kentucky, Lexington KY 40506-0012.

To those of you who have already donated this year, we extend our sincere thanks. A longtime advocate for rural America posted on the donation site, "The Rural Blog is an essential tool for keeping us connected." A rural editor said, "The Rural Blog is a valuable source of information that my weekly newspaper would not otherwise have. Wish I could help more." Thanks for whatever you can do.

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