Friday, December 28, 2018

Rural editor explains why she gave her hard-earned money to the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues

Sharon Burton
By Sharon Burton

In the fifth anniversary report of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, there was an explanation about what IRJCI does and how it does it. One sentence in particular resonates with me:

“We do that by helping rural journalists and their communities overcome the isolation that defines rurality.”

I’m not one to whine, but being a rural journalist can truly be isolating, especially if you do the job well. We may have the mobile phone number for every “important” person in our community, but we aren’t exactly invited over for the holiday dinners – not if we do the job well.

The Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues is my sounding board, my support team and even part of my reporting staff. The Institute helps community newspapers break down important statewide and national topics for our readers. Honestly, the Institute helps us do important things we should do but don’t otherwise have time to do.

I’ve attended seminars sponsored by the Institute and came away much better prepared to serve my community. I’ve published articles from The Rural Blog with thanks because I knew that without it we would not have had the resources to provide the coverage. I’ve called Director Al Cross and said something like, “Al, I have to tell you about this story I’m working on and get your take.”

I just recently provided financial support, and Al asked me to write why I would give my hard earned money to the Institute.

It’s simple, really. I want to do this job well. I make mistakes, and I sometimes make bad decisions but I have a heart for my community. I love my community and I love rural journalism and all that it represents. I need all the tools I can get to help me do this job well. The Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues is a vital tool in that endeavor. I’m proud to help support their mission because they support me with mine.

Sharon Burton is editor and publisher of The Farmer's Pride, Kentucky's independent agricultural newspaper, and the Adair County Community Voice, which she founded and maintains against competition in the county seat of Columbia, population 4,500. In 2016 she won the Al Smith Award for public service through community journalism, given by the Institute and the Bluegrass Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. In her acceptance speech, she said she is a hard-nosed journalist because she believes in the Bible and the Constitution. Several examples of her work have appeared on The Rural Blog, most recently here, herehere and here.

To donate to the Institute's endowment via credit card, click here. To give to its operating fund, send a check to IRJCI, 343 S. Martin Luther King Blvd., University of Kentucky, Lexington KY 40506-0012. To Sharon and others who have already donated this year, we extend our sincere thanks. For more about us, click here.