|Al Smith, second from left, with winners of the Al Smith Award for public service through community journalism by Kentuckians. From left are are John Nelson of Danville, now executive editor of Landmark Community Newspapers; Smith; Jennifer P. Brown of Hopkinsville, Stevie Lowery of Lebanon, Ryan Craig of Elkton, Sharon Burton of Columbia and The Farmer's Pride, the statewide agricultural newspaper, and Max Heath, a retired Landmark vice president and editor.|
"Kentucky journalist Al Smith helped start multiple state and national organizations, steered to safety a federal agency that Ronald Reagan targeted for elimination, and produced and hosted one of the longest-running public TV programs on government affairs in America. But, according to his memoir, Wordsmith, none of his many jobs was more important than being editor of a small-town weekly newspaper in rural Southern Kentucky," The Daily Yonder says in introducing a discussion about Smith, who was federal co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission and co-founded the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, publisher of The Rural Blog. He died March 19 at the age of 94.
"Why would I leave a community where they had taken me in; a drunk, itinerant editor no one knew? The people of Logan County had saved me from myself . . . They read my paper when I told them their schools weren't good enough. A lot of them didn't like my politics, but our circulation was growing. What was this place I was trying to leave? . . . Logan County was a microcosm of Kentucky, maybe even of the world; there was no bigger job than the one I had."