Saturday, June 24, 2023

Uvalde editor-publisher recalls how shooting sealed relationships inside weekly, broke them with schools, police

Uvalde Leader-News Editor-Publisher Craig Garnett speaks to the Oklahoma Press Association.

Last year's shooting of 19 students at Robb Elementary School in Uvande, Texas, tested the relationships that the twice-weekly Uvalde Leader-News had in its newsroom and local authorities. It strengthened the first and broke the second, Editor-Publisher Craig Garnett said at the state press association convention in Oklahoma, his native state, this month.

“Our reporter, Kimberly Rubio, was at her desk that morning in the newsroom. She had two children at Robb, and she began to get a little nervous,” Garnett recalled. Then Rubio learned that her 10-year-old daughter had been killed, Rod Serfoss reports for Oklahoma Publisher.

“Our newsroom consists of four people – three of them women – and Kimberly Rubio had been with us for 10 years,” Garnett said. “She brought her Lexy, who was killed, to our office when she was five days old. The relationship in our newsroom is extremely close. All three women were shaken to the core. They cried for the first two weeks in between writing – and I don’t know how they did it. They would go, then have a bad spell, and then gather themselves and return to their computer – because that is just what you do.”

By the end of May 24, 2022, the day of the shooting, “The school and police agencies that the newspaper had a good relationship with all clammed up,” Garnett said. “A year later we still can’t get answers. We have filed about 10 to 15 requests with the school district and still can’t get any answers. The shooter needed help from the school and didn’t get it. They just expelled him. The school district failed this young man. We now have a completely antagonistic relationship with the school district. They won’t answer our phone calls, and only respond to half of our text messages. They feel like we are out to get them – and we are. They didn’t do their job.”

But Garnett added, “We failed as a newspaper by not looking more closely at the school district. It was easier for them to get rid of kids than to help them.”

Asked how to cover such an event, Garnett replied, “I don’t know.”

County-fair season in U.S. is country-fair season in England

The Economist used this Getty Images photo, which had no caption
but may be from Bath and West, with its story about country fairs.
It's country-fair season, and not just in the United States. "Britons love a fair," and seemingly more so lately, The Economist reports from across the pond:

"No one is sure exactly how many fairs there are, but at least 400 days of such rural events happen annually. A parliamentary briefing last year suggested that roughly one in 10 Britons attend them each year. It appears their popularity is rising. Events that sell out all their tickets, as happened at the Great Yorkshire Show last year, could become more common."

Why? "Nostalgia is evidently a big draw," the Economist ventures. At "England’s oldest and grandest" fair, Bath and West Show in the southwest county of Somerset, "Bunting flapped, the visitors formed orderly queues, bought cream teas and listened to a military band that played wartime hits. . . . As well as a fiercely competitive livestock parade, it features Morris dancing, sheepvshearing and a vintage fairground. Its pony-chariot races, meanwhile, are second-to-none. Many contestants on a recent afternoon had first given generous custom at the nearby cider tent. They performed vigorously before a large crowd."

But fairs have other raisons d'etre. "Many fairs were founded in the 18th or 19th century to spread knowledge of new farming technology among rural populations. Some of that mission continues. . . . The 600 trade stalls offered at least as much interest as any Morris dancing."

Most Britons are urbanites, so the fairs try to "educate urban visitors, who make up a decent share of those who turn up. Some consumers also come armed with formidable knowledge of food-supply chains—as well as sometimes complicated personal preferences for organic, local, animal-friendly, vegan, fair-trade and environmentally sound products. Laura Williams, of the Royal Welsh Show, notes that visitors these days are 'much more invested in farming and interested in where their food comes from' than in years gone past."

Mountain Valley Pipeline gets permit for water crossings

The pipeline will go to one that serves eastern states. 
"A final permit issued Friday may be enough to get the Mountain Valley Pipeline across the remaining rivers, streams and wetlands that have long blocked the project’s path to completion," reports Laurence Hammack of The Roanoke Times.

The permit came from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers "for construction through hundreds of water bodies in Southwest Virginia and West Virginia, as it was required to do by a recently passed federal law that fast tracks the controversial project," Hammack writes, noting the law's main backer, conservative Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, where the pipeline will gather its gas.

The permit covers all the "water resources" the pipeline needs to cross, which are so numerous that an exact count wasn't available Friday. "Mountain Valley has previously said that it has completed more than half of the nearly 1,000 water-body crossings along the pipeline’s 303-mile route," Hammack notes. "But one thing seemed clear Friday: Mountain Valley now has approval to complete a natural gas project that has been delayed for more than four years by permitting complications and legal challenges."

In wire-service transgender stories, Fox replaces 'gender-affirming care' with 'sex change' or 'sex reassignment'

"Fox News’ website is altering articles from The Associated Press and Reuters to replace the phrase 'gender-affirming care' with the terms 'sex change' or 'sex reassignment' — phrases that the AP, trans journalists, and LGBTQ rights advocates deem outdated — and frequently removing or replacing references to 'care' or 'medical care'," Mia Gingerich reports for Media Matters.

"In one of the most recent examples, Fox fabricated a quote from an Oregon state senator," Gingerich reports. "AP and Reuters confirmed that altering their content to change the meaning or accuracy of the reporting violates their rules."

Fox moved from changing headlines to changing story texts with an AP article it reposted April 27, Gingerich reports. "Over the last two months, Fox News has altered at least 18 articles from the AP and one from Reuters on anti-trans legislation that are credited exclusively to the respective outlets. No notes or citations are made clarifying any changes." Her story cites each examples of changes.

Gingerich explains, "Gender-affirming care is a broad term that encompasses an array of essential services for trans and nonbinary people that can include both medical care — such as therapy and medication — as well as nonmedical services, like changing the way you dress or what pronouns you use." She notes conservative information outlets like The Daily Signal "castigated the cable network for its occasional 'use of activist language like "gender affirming care" in stories on its website, as well as the site’s consistent use of female pronouns for biological males.' Last year, Fox News’ Laura Ingraham similarly called on people to stop using the term, claiming it was a 'misleading euphemism'. The medical professionals providing gender-affirming care, and who overwhelmingly support trans youth’s access to care, do not share that sentiment."

Last year AP added a topical guide to its Stylebook, giving guidance "not to use outdated terms, singling out 'sex change' as one to avoid," Gingerich notes. 

News-media roundup: Canada passes tech-news bill; fact-checking levels off; young people forsake news websites . . .

The Parliament of Canada has passed a bill to "require Google and Meta to pay media outlets for news content that they share or otherwise repurpose on their platforms," The Associated Press reports. The Senate approved Bill C-18 "amid a standoff between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government and Silicon Valley tech giants," AP reports. "Meta confirmed Thursday that it plans to comply with the bill by ending news availability on Facebook and Instagram for its Canadian users, as it had previously suggested. Meta would not offer details about the timeline for that move, but said it will pull local news from its site before the Online News Act takes effect," six months after it is signed by the governor-general, Canada's head of state.
"Fact-checking’s growth seems to have leveled off," reports the Duke Reporters' Lab.  Mark Stencel, Erica Ryan and Joel Luther counted 417 fact-checking news outlets around the world, down from a peak of 424 in 2022.
Young people are abandoning news websites in favor of social media and Tik Tok, reports Nic Newman of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. The institute's report has "evidence that users of TikTok, Instagram and Snapchat tend to pay more attention to celebrities and social media influencers than they do to journalists or media companies when it comes to news topics," Newman writes.
The Augusta Press, an online news outlet, has won the 2023 Freedom of Information Award from the Georgia Press Association for pressing its case against the Richmond County sheriff, who won't communicate with it because he dislikes its opinion writer.

Friday, June 23, 2023

State supermajorities, at highest level in 40 years, mean one party's agenda moves forward and the other is powerless

North Carolina state Rep. Tricia Cotham changed her party
affiliation to Republican. (Photo by Hannah Schoenbaum, AP)

Supermajorities are once again more common in the states, and their influence can be so powerful that the minority party becomes irrelevant, reports David Lieb of The Associated Press. "In North Carolina, a new supermajority of Republicans enacted abortion restrictions. In Vermont, a new supermajority of Democrats imposed a climate-sensitive home heating law. And in Montana, a GOP supermajority booted a transgender lawmaker from the House floor."

While there is no generally accepted definition of a supermajority, "The term generally is equated with whatever threshold is needed to override a gubernatorial veto," Lieb explains. "In many states, that's a two-thirds majority. In some, that's a three-fifths majority. In six states — Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia — it takes only a simple majority to override a veto. But those states all have Republican majorities around 70% or greater."

"Republicans or Democrats hold majorities so large in 28 states that they could override gubernatorial vetoes without any help from the minority party," with 19 Republican supermajorities and nine Democratic ones, Lieb reports. The total is the most since 1982, according to Saint Louis University political scientist Steven Rogers, an expert on elections and state legislatures.

Simply put, supermajorities have the votes to enact their agenda, and some members join them to gain leverage or make a difference.. "In April, North Carolina state Rep. Tricia Cotham switched from Democrat to Republican to give the GOP another supermajority," Lieb notes. "Six weeks after Cotham's switch, she provided a pivotal vote as the new GOP supermajority overrode Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper's veto of legislation banning most abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy." 

Increases in supermajorities stem from two trends, Lieb reports: "Americans have increasingly voted along party lines, picking state lawmakers and even local officials who align with their party choice for president or the top of the ticket, Rogers said. At the same time, politicians in power in many states have gerrymandered voting district boundaries to give their party's candidates an advantage in legislative elections. . . . As parties gain more seats in House and Senate chambers, the political ideology of their middle members often shifts further to the right or left, reducing the need to appeal to moderates and virtually eliminating the need to compromise with the opposing party."

Depending on a voter's political leanings, "Some may be pleased by the sweeping policies that get enacted," Lieb points out. "Others may feel like their priorities are ignored." Carlos Algara, an assistant professor of government and politics at Claremont Graduate University in California, told Lieb: "On behalf of the voters, it might be a good thing, because it helps clarify responsibility. If you are a voter in California, you know explicitly which party owns policy; it's the Democratic Party. . . . So if you don't like the direction of policy in California, you have a very easy choice."

Indiana teachers put students in isolation with little oversight; schools are not audited or held accountable

Elementary school isolation room in Warsaw,
pop. 15,000, in northern Indiana (WFYI)
Teachers in Indiana repeatedly put an 11-year-old boy in forced isolation, despite the child having epilepsy and being on the autism spectrum, reports Lee V. Gaines of WFYI in Indianapolis in the first of two reports. This child isn't alone in his experience. "Students across the state are secluded and restrained thousands of times each year, according to data provided by the Indiana Department of Education. . . . Indiana lawmakers approved legislation a decade ago that was intended to regulate and curb the use of restraint and seclusion in schools. . . . The law states that these interventions should be used rarely and only as a last resort in situations where the safety of students or others is threatened. . . . But a lack of oversight from the Indiana Department of Education means it's unclear whether the law has had its intended effect."

Indiana "defines seclusion as the confinement of a student alone in a room or an area from which they're physically prevented from leaving. Physical restraint is defined as physical contact between a school employee and student that involves the use of a manual hold to restrict freedom of movement of all or part of a student's body," Gaines explains. "The DOE collects district-reported data on the number of incidents of seclusion and restraint in schools. . . . But a WFYI investigation — based on public records, court documents, internal school logs, audio recordings of state-level meetings, and parent interviews — found that some schools do not accurately report incidents of restraint and seclusion to the state."

In addition to haphazard reporting by some schools, the DOE is required to conduct "an annual audit of seclusion and restraint data reported to the agency by school districts, according to a rule that took effect in 2018," Gaines writes. "But the department has no record of an audit ever being done for the previous four school years, according to a spokesperson for the agency, Christina Molinari. . . . Molinari said that the DOE does not have the power to make schools follow these plans." In addition to individual school plans, in 2013, the state established "The Indiana Commission on Seclusion and Restraint, which was tasked with drafting rules and creating a model plan that details how schools should report and use these interventions. . . . Two commission members say the body has lost focus." And once again, "The commission has no enforcement power to ensure districts are accurately reporting incidents and following their restraint and seclusion plans." The end result is "state requirements and no enforcement."

In a partial win for a Chippewa band in Wisconsin, a federal judge orders a section of oil pipeline to close in three years

The Bad River Band's insignia shows the river's watershed
inside the reservation. (Image from Bad River Tribe website)
A federal judge's ruling gave a partial victory to members of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, who were suing Canadian oil firm Enbridge "over a stretch of pipeline that crossed over tribal lands," reports Zack Budryk of The Hill. District Judge William Conley "ordered the firm to shut down a section of its pipeline in Wisconsin. . . . The tribe has argued the area of the pipeline is at risk of rupture, while erosion of the banks of the Bad River has left only about 15 feet of land separating the pipeline and the river. . . . Conley agreed with the tribe on the environmental risks of the situation but did not agree a state of emergency warranted an immediate shutdown."

Reservation and pipeline (WNMU map)
Conley, a Barack Obama appointee and native of Rice Lake, 80 miles southwest of the reservation, ordered a "gradual shutdown within three years, and he ordered the energy firm to pay the tribe $5 million in damages for trespassing," Budryk reports. "His ruling expressed concerns that an immediate halt to the pipeline would disrupt energy security in the area and make consumer fuel costs spiral." The judge pointed out Enbridge's delay in building a bypass pipeline, noting that "'Enbridge has now had 10 years since losing its rights of way, including four years of litigating, to move its bypass forward. Considering all the evidence, the court cannot countenance an indefinite delay. . . . Nevertheless, the court will give Enbridge an additional three years to complete a reroute.'"

Enbridge said the ruling was a partial win, but it plans to appeal. "Mike Wiggins, chairman of the Bad River Band, told Budryk that its "victory is not a cause for unqualified celebration . . . We are under no illusion that Enbridge will do the right thing. We expect them to fight this order with all of their corporate might. This is just one step in protecting our people and water."

Farm Bill seems likely to be delayed past Sept. 30 deadline

Passage of a new Farm Bill for the next five years seems likely to be delayed, as chairs of the House and Senate agriculture committees say Congress may need to pass a short-term extension of the current law that expires Sept. 30, reports Leah Douglas of Reuters.

Senate Agriculture Chair Debbie Stabenow said "It would not surprise me" if a short-term extension will be needed. "We can't give you a date [for a draft], but we're moving as quickly as we can" in the Senate, she said at an event hosted by Bloomberg Government.

Stabenow said the process was delayed by debate over the recent debt-and-spending deal, including changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which the Farm Bill authorizes. Work requirements for the program, once known as food stamps, will now apply to people under 55, not 50.

House Agriculture Chair G.T. Thompson said the pandemic also delayed the lengthy process, and "said he hopes to have a draft bill ready for markup by the House in September," Douglas reports.

"The American Farm Bureau Federation has about 80 priorities for the new Farm Bill, but the group is focusing on risk management programs," reports Philip Gruber of Lancaster Farming. "These programs — like Dairy Margin Coverage and grain farmers’ Agriculture Risk Coverage — are the most relevant to farmers’ bottom line. For safety-net programs, Farm Bureau has two big goals — increase funding and reset payment thresholds. The rules of some commodity programs are such that farmers won’t get paid unless they have a crop failure," according to Farm Bureau Public Affairs VP Sam Kieffer, speakeing at the PennAgExpo.

Appalachian Journal publishes 50th volume, with looks at Helen Lewis, Rebecca Boone, Harriette Arnow and others

The latest issue of Appalachian Journal (Volume 50, Nos. 1-2) has been published by Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C., marking the 50th anniversary of the peer-reviewed journal that began publishing in 1972. The issue includes a memorial for Helen Matthews Lewis, "the grandmother of Appalachian studies," who died last year; the conclusion of an unpublished memoir by Harriette Simpson Arnow, an exploration of Rebecca Boone’s life, and research on a 20th-century artist who "found a muse in the Southern Appalachians," ASU reports.

Patricia D. Beaver reflects on the life of her colleague and friend, Helen Lewis, focusing on the trips they made to Wales, Zimbabwe, and France, among other places, as well as their creative collaborations and Lewis’s passion for social justice and community building and Lewis’s poem “Loose Threads.”

Patricia L. Hudson presents the facts of frontierswoman Rebecca Boone’s life, including provocative biographical details, including rumors of a child conceived while Daniel was away on a hunting expedition. Hudson’s research led to her first historical novel, Traces, reviewed in this issue.

The previous issue of the journal featured the first sections of a four-part autobiographical piece by writer Harriette Simpson Arnow, about her life with chronic illness and depression, caused by a pituitary tumor. The latest issue has the final two parts, detailing Arnow’s recovery from her first brain surgery and the recurrence of symptoms such as pain and vision loss, which prompted a second surgery in 1967.

The journal includes the work of four poets and several book reviewers, including Lana Whited’s essay, “Coming of Age in the Opioid Era,” reviewing Barbara Kingsolver’s novel Demon Copperhead, and Erin M. Presley’s review essay of of Horace Kephart: Writings, edited by George Frizzell and Mae Miller Claxton. Kephart brought national attention to the Great Smoky Mountains.

To subscribe to Appalachian Journal or order a copy, go to

Rural Assembly sets online gathering Wednesday, June 28

The Daily Yonder

Rural Assembly Everywhere, the virtual gathering of the Rural Assembly, will feature conversations with rural leaders and allies, including Anderson Clayton, the youngest state political party leader in the nation.

Clayton, chair of the North Carolina Democratic party, is one of several rural leaders and allies scheduled to be part of the free, virtual event from 1 to 3 p.m. ET Wednesday, June 28.

This year’s Everywhere is focused on rural people who are working toward safer, more connected communities. It is the fourth virtual event for the Rural Assembly, which has been hosting gatherings across the country since 2007.

Rural Assembly Everywhere will be broadcast via the Crowdcast platform. Attendees will be able to connect with one another before and during the broadcast through the event chat.

“Everywhere is the virtual analog to an in-person Rural Assembly,” said Rural Assembly Director Whitney Kimball Coe. “Even in a virtual space, we feel like we can create an experience that inspires and strengthens our connections to one another across Zip codes and culture.”

“The theme of ‘safer, more connected rural communities’ gives us an opportunity to explore how people and places are taking care of each other and affirming the dignity of one another–through arts and culture, policy advocacy, organizing and gathering, big and small acts of care. The stories from Everywhere remind us that rural people and places are extra and ordinary and essential to the future of our nation.”

The event will spotlight other rural voices through video stories and conversations:
  • Appalachian author and Kentucky Poet Laureate Silas House in conversation with his friend the Rt. Rev. Brian Lee Cole, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of East Tennessee. House has written seven novels; his most recent, Lark Ascending, won the 2023 Southern Book Prize and the 2023 Nautilus Book Award. In 2022 he won the Duggins Prize, the nation's largest award for an LGBTQ writer.
  • Highlander Center’s Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson and Allyn Maxfield-Steele will talk about the center’s work in the South.
  • Sam Schimmel and Jonathan Blair, co-creators of a documentary-media and public-engagement initiative, "American Creed: Citizen Power," a follow-up to the 2018 documentary "American Creed" from Citizen Film – will discuss how they are working to build safer, more connected communities, the barriers they face, and their advice for other young rural community organizers.
  • Stories from rural organizations and initiatives, including the Catwalk drag show in Fergus Falls, Minn.; Good Neighbor Missouri, Welcoming America, the Equal Justice Initiative, Main Street America, which helps revitalize older parts of small towns. and StrengthenND, which hekps nonprofits and rural communities in North Dakota.
  • Artists Brett Hill, Eliza Blue, Cody & Alex, and Torrey McDowell will share stories and musical performances.
Registration for Everywhere is free. Visit to register.

The Rural Assembly and The Daily Yonder are part of the Center for Rural Strategies.

Thursday, June 22, 2023

Weekly editors, publishers feel a need to look after their and counterparts' mental health in the isolation that defines 'rural'

By Al Cross
Director and Professor, Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, University of Kentucky

Has there been a more stressful time for community journalists, especially those in rural areas, where the isolation that defines rurality limits access to mental-health care and gives them few trusted peers to rely on for help and support? Rural editors, publishers and reporters have suffered the double whammy of the pandemic amid the impact of the great digital shift, which has robbed them of audience, revenue and colleagues.

Several editors and publishers talked about these existential issues with rural-journalism researchers June 21 at the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors' annual conference in Reno. After Christina Smith of Georgia College and State University and Kyle Miller of the University of South Dakota presented their research on rural journalists' mental health, Smith asked them if they have "confidants" with whom they can discuss the stresses of the job and the problems those stresses can cause. That sparked an interesting conversation.

ISWNE President Gordon Cameron of Hamilton, Ontario, said that after every annual conference, "We leave energized and that’s because, the people in this room, you all get it," through common experiences, some of which can be stressful. He said that has helped him get through "difficult times." Ken Garner of the Maryville Forum in Missouri said “I’ve found my tribe” in ISWNE. He said retired publishers Gary and Helen Sosniecki, longtime ISWNE stalwarts, had helped him, and he would have “no issue” calling anyone in the room at the University of Nevada-Reno for help. He said that is a key to his mental health.

Reed Anfinson
Reed Anfinson, publisher of the Swift County Monitor-News and two other weeklies in rural Minnesota, said he agreed with all that, but “I also feel like we’re glossing over the real impact that a lot of isolated newspaper publishers face in America. We sit there in our offices, for many, many weeks, without hardly interacting with other publishers, and there's too many publishers that don't belong to organizations. So there is a real problem out there with isolation.”

Especially when the concerns are existential. Anfinson said community publishers ask themselves, “Can I sell my newspapers? Will somebody want them? . . . Those things all eat at us, all the time.” He said ISWNE members can talk about it in "a therapy session" but “There are a lot of problems out there in our industry that have to be addressed and we have to get more of our publishers involved.”

Tim Waltner, retired publisher of the Freeman Courier in South Dakota, noted that state and provincial press associations have legal hotlines, and suggsted they should should have mental-health hotlines too. Anfinson called that "a great idea," noting that both major farm groups in Minnesota have mental-health hotlines for their members.

Smith said the research paper she and Miller are publishing soon in Newspaper Research Journal calls on press assocations and other organizations "to step up" and offer mental-health help, and encourages publishers to raise the issue with their readers “and say, this job is hard, but we love every minute of it because it’s our calling.”

Smith and Miller surveyed 31 Georgia and South Dakota publishers with weeklies of less than 3,000 circulation as part of a broader study about newspapers and the pandemic. Some said it affected their mental health, mainly due to financial concerns that were not entirely related to the pandemic. She said the title of their paper, based on a quote from one interviewee, is “The end of the golden era of weekly newspapering.”

Perhaps, but that's painting with a broad brush. The U.S. still has about 6,000 weekly newspapers in almost 3,000 counties, most of them rural, but with differing levels of rurality and prosperity, and many different challenges. Their success in meeting those challenges could depend partly on how much they could help each other, from one-on-one relationships to international organizations like ISWNE.
The isolation that defines rurality means that while there are thousands of good rural journalists, all too often they are the only person in their newsroom who fits that description. They need friends, allies and advisers, both inside and outside the industry. Let's all try to help each other.

UPDATE: Most local journalists "are burned out," Elizabeth Djinis writes for Poynter, citing a survey by the journalism school at the University of North Carolina. It's become "an institutional issue," says Scott Reinardy of the University of Kansas’s j-school.

Program finalized for National Summit on Journalism in Rural America, July 7; hotel deadline extended one week

The program for the National Summit on Journalism in Rural America, July 7 in Lexington, Ky., and online, includes some of the latest research on rural journalism; and the experiences of some successful rural publishers and start-ups, both digital and print; philanthropy for rural jouranalism; efforts to change state policies to help local news; and university programs to fill gaps in local news coverage.

The summit will be a hybrid event, but most presenters will appear in person. Registration is free, and required; register here. The summit will be held at the Campbell House Curio Hotel, 10 minutes from the Lexington airport. A block of rooms at $139 per night has been extended to Friday, June 30.

The summit is sponsored by the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues (publisher of The Rural Blog) at the University of Kentucky. Here's a closer look at the program:

The state of rural newspapers and the rise of ghost newspapers: Zachary Metzger, Northwestern University, will report on the latest data in the Medill School's continuing State of Local News study.

Rural publishers’ and readers’ views of alternate-revenue models: Nick Mathews, University of Missouri, will report on a study he did with Teri Finneman of the University of Kansas and Pat Ferrucci of the University of Colorado, which included an ongoing intervention with rural papers.

What it's like to be the subject in an alternate-revenue research experiment: Joey Young of Kansas Publishing Ventures, partner in the interventional research, will give his perspective on the study.

What rural publishers think about the future: Ross McDuffie, chief portfolio officer of the National Trust for Local News, will report on a survey of rural publishers that is now in the field.

Finding alternative-revenue success at a twice-weekly: David Woronoff, publisher of The Pilot in Southern Pines, N.C., will explain how his newspaper has broadened its revenue base.

Finding alternative-revenue success at a small daily: Jack Rooney, The Keene Sentinel, Keene, N.H., will do likewise, following up on the Sentinel's presentation at last year's summit.

Reviving Gannett ghosts: Jeremy Gulban, CEO of CherryRoad Media, owner of many former Gannett Co. papers, discusses the difficulty of reviving rural newspapers that lost most of their circulation and revenue under ownership of the nation's largest chain.

Rural journalism as a community builder: Bonita Robertson-Hardy, co-executive director, of the Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group, will discuss how accurate narratives, including high-quality journalism, help build trust and advance equitable rural prosperity.

Philanthropy for local news: Duc Luu, a jouralism officer at the Knight Foundation, moderates a panel with Richard Young of CivicLex, a local digital startup that focuses on local government and civil society; and Lillian Ruiz of Ci-X Strategies, which helps develop thriving public squares that communicate harmony, resilience and cohesion.

Broader rural news: Tim Marema, editor of The Daily Yonder, and Alana Rocha, editor of the Institite for Nonprofit News’s Rural News Network, will discuss how their online platforms bring a focus to broader rural issues and topics by exploring local examples.

Solutions journalism: Mary Steurer, government reporter for the Casper Star-Tribune, will discuss will for solutions-journalism reporting projects and beats in rural news deserts that have few existing resources. as well as ideas on how solutions journalism can be used to build trust in rural communities. Also participating: Melissa Cassutt, rural media manager of the Solutions Journalism Network.

Turning readers into correspondents and reporters: Lindsey Young of Kansas Publishing Ventures will discuss "Earn Your Press Pass," a program that she developed and is being used by state newspaper associations to help newspapers members fill gaps in local reporting.

Digital start-ups going against chain-owned small dailies: The experiences of Lynne Campbell of the Community News Brief in Macomb, Ill.; Jennifer P. Brown of the Hoptown Chronicle in Hopkinsville, Ky.; Debra Tobin of the Logan-Hocking Times in Logan, Ohio; and Nicole DeCriscio Bowe, who is just starting The Owen News in Spencer, Ind.

Seeking state policies to help local journalism: Anna Brugmann, director of policy at the Rebuild Local News Coalition, will discuss how it has turned its attention to state governments, and report on some legislative successes, including a tax break in Washington state and California House passage of a bill that would require tech platforms to give publishers money to hire journalists.

Retreating to Facebook: What do you do when you publish one of the best small weeklies in America but have reached a turnign point in life and have to give up printing your newspaper? Laurie Ezzell Brown of The Canadian Record in Texas and Ryan Craig of the Todd County Standard in Kentucky talked about how they still report on Facebook, and Craig reports on his growing audience. 

Bringing students into communities to report local news: Richard Watts of the Center for Community News at the University of Vermont moderates a panel with Alan Miller of Denison University in central Ohio and Christopher Drew of Louisiana State University.

Maintaining and growing print circulation: Patrick Schless of the Lewis County Press's Community Journalism Project says, "Strengthening community newspapers starts with print first; it is what the staff believe in, what the current subscribers know, and what the small-town advertisers understand." He's working with 70 rural papers to strengthen print product while building a bridge to a hybrid future.

Where do we go from here? Concluding roundtable, moderated by Benjy Hamm, incoming director of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues.

The day will conclude with a cash-bar reception and optional dinner, which carries a $50 fee. The rest of the day is free of charge, thanks to the Institute and its parent units: the UK School of Journalism and Media and the College of Communication and Information.

Less expensive states attract big-city remote workers with cash grants and amenities such as university libraries

 Diners at Vera Mae’s Bistro in Muncie, Ind. (Photo by Gary Coronado, L.A. Times)
The cost of living has risen everywhere, but in states like California, some people are looking to get away from expensive living by taking "moving grants and non-cash inducements" from states that are seeking to gain well-employed, mobile workers and their families, reports Don Lee for the Los Angeles Times. He cites Indiana, where "Dozens of counties and cities are practically stepping over one another in what has become the new competition across the land: attracting the pandemic-enlarged horde of people with remote jobs who no longer feel the need to live in more expensive urban centers such as Los Angeles or New York."

Many Midwestern places have lost population to more urbanized locations, but in the wake of the pandemic, they are selling their cozier size and local offerings as strengths. "Many see opportunities to attract people looking for a quieter, cheaper and friendlier place to live," Lee reports, citing Stanford University studies that "show about 10% of all workers are fully remote, five times pre-Covid-19 levels. "Typical relocation packages include grants of around $5,000, although several areas in West Virginia, including Morgantown and Lewisburg, say they'll pay each qualified worker who moves $12,000 in cash. . . . To qualify, most places require that you move from out of state and have a remote job and a minimum income, usually around $50,000 a year. . . . Non-cash inducements run the gamut. Gym memberships, entertainment passes and access to co-working office space are common."

Poplar Bluff, Mo, pop. 16,000, "is offering passes to stay at vacation cabins to enjoy the nearby waters and mountains of the Ozarks. They're among 17 incentives valued at $11,000," Lee reports. City Manager Matt Winters told Lee, "I think we have a lot to offer. Our cost of living is low. . . . Rural America is attractive to some people. It takes me five minutes to get to work every morning, and that's if I'm not in a hurry."

In Indiana, "More than 400 people have moved to Indiana, and an additional 350 are on their way, said Christie Hurst," spokeswoman for "MakeMyMove, which is based in Indianapolis and helps cities across the U.S. recruit remote workers," Lee reports. Neaby Muncie's "package includes $5,000 in cash and passes to use Ball State University's library and fitness center. . . . Rudy Ramos, 41, of Fremont, Calif., will be moving to Muncie, taking with him a remote consulting business that helps build laboratories and medical facilities. . . . Ramos is single and has lived his entire life in California, but said he just couldn't keep up with the rising cost of living. He signed a lease for a three-bedroom house in Muncie for $950 a month. In Fremont, he had been paying three times that much for a two-bedroom place." Ramos told Lee, "Honestly, it's just way too expensive here. All I'm working for is my housing. I don't have an opportunity to reinvest in my business. . . . I love learning new knowledge. I'm going to take full advantage of that library."

Two companies receive USDA approval to sell lab-grown meat; food-safety oversight is the same as for natural meat

Chicken bites made from cell-cultured chicken (Photo from Eat Just via NBC)
The Department of Agriculture has given two new companies approval to sell artifically grown meat. Good Meat and Upside Foods "make what they call 'cultivated chicken'," reports Danielle Wiener-Bronner of CNN. "Good Meat, which is owned by plant-based egg substitute maker Eat Just, said that production is starting immediately. . . . Cultivated or lab-grown meat is grown in a giant vat, much like what you'd find at a beer brewery."

The new option may have potential customers wondering about food safety. Good Meat has been selling its cultivated chicken in Singapore since 2020. The USDA defined its oversight yesterday: "Cell-cultured meat and poultry food products are subject to the same Food Safety and Inspection Service's regulatory requirements and oversight authority as meat and poultry food products derived from the slaughter of amenable species."

It has taken several years, but cultured-meat developers have gained the capital for commercialization. "Investors have poured some $2 billion into the space in the last two years, according to Crunchbase data," Kate Rogers of NBC News reports. To investors and consumers, the technology has been marketed as a "more humane approach to eating meat," Wiener-Bronner explains. "Good Meat advertises it as 'meat without slaughter.' Supporters hope that cultured meat will help fight climate change by reducing the need for traditional animal agriculture, which emits greenhouse gases."

The next step is seeing how the public, especially chefs, respond. Good Meat "announced that it was partnering with chef and restaurateur José Andrés to bring the item to a Washington, D.C., restaurant," Wiener-Bronner reports. "As production ramps up, Good Meat may consider partnering with other restaurants or launching in retail . . . . Upside is planning to introduce its product ... at a San Francisco restaurant [and] plans to work with other restaurants and make its products available in supermarkets."

There is already pushback from "traditional meat producers, such as the U.S. Cattlemen's Association," reports Amelia Lucas of NBC. Americans will have to accept cultured meat as actual food, which is not guaranteed. Educating U.S. consumers takes time, but the product does have nutritional benefits. Lucas reports, "[It] has a high protein content and a diversified amino acid composition, no antibiotics and very low microbiological content, such as salmonella and E. coli."

Administration moves to restore some blanket protections for threatened plants and wildlife; arguments ensue

Two northern spotted owls peer at a photojournalist. (Apache-Sitgreaves
National Forest/Flickr photo, CC by NC ND 2.0, via Audubon)

The Biden administration has moved to reinstate some plant and animal protections the Trump administration had nixed or weakened in 2019, report Matthew Brown and John Flesher of The Associated Press. "The Fish and Wildlife Service said it would reinstate a decades-old regulation that mandates blanket protections for species newly classified as threatened." The protections were removed "as part of a suite of changes to the application of the species law that were encouraged by industry, even as extinctions accelerate globally due to habitat loss and other pressures."

Along with the restored protections, "Officials also would no longer consider economic impacts when deciding if animals and plants need protection. And the rules make it easier to designate areas as critical for a species' survival, even if it is no longer found in those locations," Brown and Flesher write. "That could help with the recovery of imperiled fish and freshwater mussels in the Southeast, where the aquatic animals in many cases are absent from portions of their historical range, said Fish and Wildlife Service Assistant Director Gary Frazer. . . . He said [the] proposal would restore 'baseline' protections so species don't get pushed further toward extinction."

The move will meet pushback from Republican lawmakers "who say President Joe Biden's Democratic administration has hampered oil, gas and coal development, and favors conservation over development," AP reports. "Industry groups have long viewed the 1973 Endangered Species Act as an impediment. Under Trump, they successfully lobbied to weaken the law's regulations as part of a broad dismantling of environmental safeguards. Trump officials rolled back endangered species rules and protections for the northern spotted owl, gray wolves and other species."

AP reports, "Fish and Wildlife Service Director Martha Williams said in a statement that the changes reaffirm our commitment to conserving America's wildlife and ensuring the Endangered Species Act works for both species and people.'" Some Western states may disagree. "Jonathan Wood with the Property and Environment Research Center, a free-market policy group based in Bozeman, Montana, said the Biden proposal could hurt state and private landowner efforts to recover species by imposing more punitive regulations that undermine voluntary conservation incentives."

While the Biden administration's changes will reverse some of what the Trump era dropped, some "environmentalists complained that some Trump-era changes would remain intact. . . . One requires agencies to protect living spaces for imperiled species only when development would harm an entire habitat and not just part of it. That could remove obligations to fix damage from logging trees that are needed by spotted owls unless all of their 9-million-acre habitat zones were affected, said Stephanie Kurose at the Center for Biological Diversity. . . . Biden's proposal also retains a Trump change allowing agencies to approve projects without guarantees habitat harms will be reduced." McCrystie Adams, with Defenders of Wildlife, told AP: "This makes it easier to authorize piecemeal destruction of critical habitat."

Barry Blitt, reclusive rural cartoonist, starts a show Saturday

Barry Blitt (New York Times photo by James Estrin)
Barry Blitt, perhaps the most frequent cover artist for The New Yorker magazine, is a reclusive type, but on Saturday he will help open an exhibit of some of his more recent illustrations, plus "never-before-seen drafts and unpublished work," at the Minor Memorial Library in Roxbury, Connecticut, where he lives, reports Jamie Larson for Rural Intelligence, a mostly online publication for rural areas north of the city. The show, “Pen & Angst & Watercolor,” will run through Aug. 5.

His rendition of King Charles III is featured
in the story about Blitt in Rural Intelligence.
"Blitt’s mind has wrought some of the New Yorker’s most recognizable covers, but the man himself usually shies away from any and all public attention. The exhibition is the third Blitt has done at the library and though he admits he gets agoraphobic at events, he’s grateful for the support and encouragement," RI reports. “I’m treating it as an obligation,” Blitt said.

Blitt, who was born and raised in Quebec, attended the Ontario College of Art and Design, worked in advertising in London, “came home defeated,” and moved to New York in 1989, RI reports: "In 1993, tired of the noise, he moved to Connecticut – first Riverside, then Washington Depot, and finally Roxbury, where he has found a nearly tolerable level of seclusion."

Larson adds, "Though his lumpy portraits of presidents and political creatures are his most recognizable works, Blitt says he’s getting tired of drawing the same old disgusting politicians every week for The New Yorker's pages, online his weekly Blitt’s Kvetchbook and for Airmail magazine. He's glad to be showing a collection of his own selection at the library."

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Universities in Ohio step up to provide local news reported by students; just four of over 100 such efforts in the U.S.

Reporters for the Midway Messenger, which was a 14-year University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media project, now run by The Woodford Sun with student help, interviewed city officials after a meeting. (Photo by Al Cross, instructor)

By Richard Watts and Justin Trombly in The Daily Yonder

If you want to see the latest way people are helping keep rural journalism healthy, look at Ohio.

When Gannett Co. closed the community paper in the town of Oxford, faculty at Miami University saw an opportunity to enlist their students in a hands-on learning experience providing local news. 
They started the Oxford Observer, a weekly newspaper staffed by Miami students and professors.

“It’s a community relationship, but it definitely benefits the students,” said Sacha DeVroomen Bellman, the journalism instructor who leads a class that acts as the paper’s newsroom. “This is a way they can get professional work.”

About 145 miles away, students at Ohio University are providing stories to the Athens County Independent, a digital start-up founded after its editor was unjustly fired from the area’s only daily paper. And faculty member Hans Meyer plans to keep ramping up stories from students.

To the north, at Kent State University, two faculty members lead the Ohio Newslab with a focus on providing stories to rural areas. The lab partners with four community news outlets that run stories from advanced reporting classes. The faculty have raised funds to pay students and an editor who works with the classes to shape up stories and mentor students.

“We are covering some of the more sparsely populated sections of Ohio that don’t get much media attention,” said Susan Kirkman Zake, who coordinates the program with fellow faculty member Jacqueline Marino. “I really think that’s a good news niche for us to explore, both for students and the media landscape in Ohio, because media companies are really concentrated in cities.”

And in the center of the state sits Denison University, which is revamping its journalism curriculum to empower student coverage of rural Licking County. Those stories, published through The Reporting Project, are available for local media to pick up. When Intel announced the construction of a $20 billion chip plant in the city of New Albany, Denison’s project was the only media outlet to cover the project’s influence on its neighbors.

“We went and sat with Danny and Barbara Vanhoose, who have lived on Green Chapel Road for 50 years, right across the road from where Intel’s front door is going to be,” said Alan Miller, a Denison journalism professor who spent three decades at the Columbus Dispatch and covered the story with faculty member Jack Shuler and student Thu Nguyen. “We just went and visited with them while they watched and got their reaction and had an outside-the-fence view, literally, of a very big news event that everybody else was covering from inside the fence.”

Those examples showcase a trend extending far beyond Ohio. Across the nation, student reporters and their colleges are stepping in as local news outlets disappear. At the Center for Community News, our team documents partnerships between local media and colleges, and in the last year we’ve found more than 120 — many focused on bolstering news in rural areas that have been neglected as big conglomerates eat up local dailies and whittle staffs to skeleton crews.

The University of Vermont, where the center is housed, also runs a student reporting program that works with local media. In the last year, it has provided close to 300 stories for free to community papers and other local outlets.

These programs are not internships in the traditional sense. Students of course can get great experiences interning directly with newsrooms, but many of those internships have disappeared, and beleaguered editors can’t be expected to dive deep with their rookies on each and every story.

But colleges can. In university-led reporting programs, experienced former journalists vet and assign and edit student work and work with local news outlets to assign stories that otherwise would go uncovered. It’s a win-win. Papers get content and students get experience.

Richard Watts is the director of the University of Vermont’s Center for Community News, which documents and brings together university-led reporting projects. Justin Trombly is the editor of the Community News Service, the university’s academic-media partnership.

Little lake in Canada is the key marker of a proposed geological epoch: Anthropocene, named for human beings

UPDATE, July 12: The Anthropocene Working Group says it chose Crawford Lake as its representational site because it has "the clearest and most pronounced evidence of humankind’s influence on the global geologic record," The New York Times reports. "Three more committees of geologists will vote on it, a process that could start this fall; 60% of each committee will need to approve the proposal for it to advance to the next one. Ratification by any is far from guaranteed."

An aerial view of Crawford Lake, where sediments hold over
a thousand years of geologic history. (Washington Post photo)
Once considered "bottomless" by locals, a small lake near Milton, Ontario, has a floor of finely detailed sediment layers that show the dramatic change humans have wrought on Earth, so much that it may mark the beginning of a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene, report Sarah Kaplan, Simon Ducroquet, Bonnie Jo Mount, Frank Hulley-Jones and Emily Wright of The Washington Post: in a richly illustrated presentation: "Researchers will determine whether Crawford Lake should be named the official starting point for this geologic chapter, [breaking] from the dependable environment of the past to the uncertain new reality humans have created. . . . In just seven decades, the scientists say, humans have brought about greater changes than they did in more than seven millennia. Never in Earth's history has the world changed this much, this fast. Never has a single species had the capacity to wreak so much damage — or the chance to prevent so much harm."

Scientists begin each epoch, a segment of  geologic time, "with a 'golden spike' — a spot in the geologic record where proof of a global transformation is perfectly preserved," the Post reports. "These spikes are like exclamation points in the story of the planet, punctuating a tale of shifting continents, evolving species and temperatures that rose and fell as carbon levels fluctuated in the atmosphere." Scientists think the golden spike for the Anthropocene Epoch may be Crawford Lake, because of its rare substrate: "No other water body is known to possess this particular combination of attributes, making Crawford Lake a unique bellwether of global change." Two keys: The water at the bottom of the lake doesn't mix with the water above, and the local environment produces a thin layer of calcite that marks every year, going back a millennium.

Radioactive plutonium began to spike in the 1940s with testing
of nuclear explosives. (Research photo, Washington Post graph)
Francine McCarthy, a professor of Earth sciences at Brock University in Ontario, has led the study of sediment layers that show how life has changed on Earth. "Fly ash, a byproduct of burning coal and oil, drifted into the lake from rapidly industrializing cities. Heavy metals like copper and lead increased in the mud," the Post reports. "And then, around 1950, the world reached a tipping point," Head told the Post: "This is when humans essentially overwhelmed the Earth as a functioning system."

From pollution to radioactive remains of nuclear-bomb tests, "The same evidence appears all over the planet, in every potential golden spike site the Anthropocene Working Group has examined," the Post reports. "Peat bogs, ocean basins, the skeletons of coral reefs — even the ice of Antarctica has been permanently tainted by human pollution."

Washington Post map from OpenStreetMap base
"What we have measured, in a very objective and quantitative way, is we are living in a world with conditions that are no longer within the last 11,000 years of natural variability," McCarthy told the Post. "The Earth is, in fact, fundamentally different." The Post reports, "As much as the Anthropocene is a recognition of humanity's culpability, it is also a declaration of human agency, McCarthy believes. Alongside geologic evidence of environmental destruction, Crawford Lake holds proof of people's capacity for repair. She told the Post: "It's not just a doomsday story. It is a 'wake up and smell the coffee' story. It shows we can make meaningful change."

The 'good life' is bigger than happiness: Here's how to help your kids (and yourself) experience all the good things

Illustration by Salini Perera, The Washington Post

Teaching children how to lay the groundwork for a "good life" means embracing lots of lessons. "For Robert Waldinger, this question of what constitutes a 'good life' isn't a hypothetical. Waldinger directs the Harvard University Study of Adult Development, which for more than 80 years has followed the lives of 724 participants and more than 1,300 of their descendants," reports Deborah Farmer Kris of The Washington Post. "When it comes to understanding human flourishing, Waldinger has the receipts, and he has detailed them in the new book The Good Life: Lessons from the World's Longest Scientific Study of Happiness. "These lessons aren't just for adults. The findings also offer our kids a healthy framework for thinking about success, relationships and life's inevitable challenges," Kris writes. "And because kids learn best from the adults in their lives, here's what Waldinger says that parents can take away from his research." Here's a condensed summary:

Happiness isn't the (sole) aim: Waldinger's answer comes down to two concrete actions that form the foundation of wellness: engaging in activities we find meaningful and connecting with people we care about and who care about us. Waldinger told Kris, "I think of happiness as an accident. But if you put in these ingredients of well-being, you make yourself more accident-prone. We can teach our kids to prepare the ground so that happiness comes more easily, more often."

Learn to surf: Waldinger's research highlights humanity's ability to adapt in the face of obstacles beyond our control. He subscribes to mindfulness teacher and author Jon Kabat-Zinn's metaphor describing the struggles of life as waves in the ocean: "You can't stop the waves, but you can learn to surf."

Relationships are the fourth 'r:' People who have the strongest relationships are "proactive, reaching out rather than just assuming that friendships are going to take care of themselves," Waldinger says. As parents, we can model this for kids by reaching out to our own friends. For example, let them see you go on a walk with a friend, text a sibling or take cookies to a neighbor.

Practice radical curiosity: Look at one person in your life and ask: What's here about this person that I haven't noticed before? It could be anything, even the way sweat forms on your partner's forehead. Radical curiosity can be transformational in family relationships. Waldinger says, 'We all respond to somebody else's genuine interest. It's a big deal. It means so much to have someone just want to know what's happening with you.'

Allow for challenges: When our kids are distressed and we try to single-handedly fix the situation for them, then they don't develop the capacity to encounter challenges and learn from experience that 'this is going to pass, and in the meantime, there are things I can do to feel a little bit better.'

Rituals and routines are connectors: Waldinger's research points to the protective power of family rituals and routines. Our kids need connection, even when they become teens and appropriately try to pull away. . . . research shows that regular family dinners correlate with higher grade-point averages, greater self-confidence, and lower rates of substance abuse and depression. As Waldinger notes, simply being in the same room together once a day is a ritual that helps family members stay connected.

Embrace the long game: One of the best things this Harvard study provides is perspective. 'What we've seen — following these lives for 85 years — is that change happens,' Waldinger says. 'People take unexpected turns and twists.'. . . He knows this not just from data but also experience. 'Our older son was absolute hell on wheels as a baby. He wouldn't sleep. He was terrified of everything. He screamed all the time. . . . He is the most wonderful, mellow young man. Thank God for child development."

Abortion clinic opens in Wyoming, where state constitution and 'hands-off conservatism' make it possible, for now

Abortion opponents protest in front of the new Wellspring clinic.
(Photo by Rachel Woolf, The Washington Post)
An abortion clinic in Casper, Wyoming, has opened despite the state's deep-red history and Roe vs. Wade reversal. Wyoming law and Western self-determination beliefs have made Wellspring Health Access' surgical clinic possible, reports Karin Brulliard of The Washington Post. "Most of Wyoming is an abortion desert, and most lawmakers in America's reddest state — having passed laws restricting nearly all abortions as well as the nation's first explicit prohibition on abortion pills. . . . Yet with the state's restrictions tied up in court, Wellspring. . . represents a dramatic abortion standoff and a stark expansion of abortion services in a region of wide-open range and sky." 

Originally scheduled to open in May 2022, the clinic was burned down by an arsonist who "was opposed to abortion," Brulliard writes. The new building opened in spring of 2023. It is a rarity "in what may be the unlikeliest abortion clinic in the country. . . . Wyoming's only other provider, 280 miles away in Jackson, offers just abortion pills. Wellspring's four physicians have already seen patients from South Dakota, Utah and Nebraska, neighboring states with limited or no abortion services. The clinic serves a dozen patients a week on average. Nearly half receive abortions, the rest reproductive health care."

"Wellspring's ability to operate is rooted in the hands-off brand of conservatism that characterized Wyoming politics before hard-liners began gaining influence," Brulliard explains. "In 2011, lawmakers worried about the Affordable Care Act potentially mandating enrollment in an 'Obamacare' plan approved a resolution that put a constitutional amendment to a public vote. It passed, giving adults the right to make their own health-care decisions."

If abortion is health care, the state cannot control an adult's health-care choices. "In court filings, the state has said its policy 'is and has always been to criminalize abortion' and argues that abortion is not health care. . . In March, a state judge in Jackson issued a temporary restraining order on the ban, which makes most abortions a felony punishable by as much as five years in prison. Later this month, she is scheduled to consider a similar order for the medication abortion ban just before it is slated to take effect."

Locations of Wyoming's abortion clinics (Wikpedia, adapted)
The town of 60,000 people on the edge of the Rocky Mountains has tried to keep a level approach, Bruillard reports: "The nonpartisan city council has mostly avoided debate over the clinic, though it has been a flash point." The town's mayor, Bruce Knell, "who describes himself as a 'literal Bibleist,' is not heeding calls for a city resolution condemning abortion." Knell told Bruillard: "They are a legal, law-abiding business, so they have a right to be here. We will allow this to play out in the courts. And I do think the pro-life folks will see a result that they're happy with."