Saturday, August 19, 2023

Ark. publisher wins open-government battle with school board over secret meeting with superintendent candidate

Challenging officials for breaking open-government laws "can involve determination and courage on the part of a community journalist. But, in the end, that is indeed a major responsibility at times for a committed local publisher," says the latest Arkansas Press Association Publisher Weekly.

Tamara Johnson (APA photo)
APA reports on the history of Tamara Johnson, editor and publisher of the daily Times-Herald in Forrest City, who filed a complaint last September with the Palestine Police Department "against the Palestine-Wheatley School Board for holding a secret meeting to interview a candidate for the position of interim superintendent at the St. Francis County school." The local prosecutor refused the case, and local judges recused themselves, but the city attorney of Forrest City, the county seat, agreed to prosecute before a retired circuit judge. After months of negotiation, the sides agreed that board President Derrick Boileau would plead "no contest," get six months’ probation and undergo mandatory training from the Arkansas School Boards Association, along with the other six board members.

"Johnson said the secret meeting occurred after several problems the newspaper had with the board concerning its methods of operation," APA reports. "This involved such actions as creating confusion on meeting dates and agenda items. 'I told them this has got to stop,' Johnson said. 'I originally thought we had a good relationship with the president and the board. What I really wanted all along was for them to take some training on the Freedom of Information Act.'"

Palestine in St. Francis County, Arkansas
(Wikipedia map)
"The board president failed to contact the newspaper concerning the meeting with the superintendent prospect and held the session across the street from the school in a shop owned by one of the board members," APA reports. "The newspaper obtained a photo of vehicles of board members parked in front of the shop during the meeting. . . . Johnson was disappointed with the actions of the school board in light of what she considers a solid level of trust developed with readers and institutions in the St. Francis County area during her almost 33 years at the Times-Herald. . . . She has been married 31 years to Rob Johnson, who is manager of the local radio station."

Friday, August 18, 2023

Moving forward: New director's thoughts on the Institute for Rural Journalism's exceptional foundation and future

Benjy Hamm
By Benjy Hamm
Director, Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues

The media world has changed significantly since Al Cross began serving as the first director of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues in 2004.

But even then, Al and other founders of the Institute understood the critical importance of supporting journalists in rural communities so they could provide quality coverage for readers, listeners and viewers. In many ways, the Institute’s founders were ahead of the times.

Since 2004, many communities have become news deserts while surviving news organizations have struggled to remain profitable and retain their audiences. The loss of thousands of journalists has been alarming and disheartening.

The financial difficulties and audience changes are not exclusive to newspapers. Cable and satellite TV subscriptions continue to plunge due to cord-cutting. Numerous online news organizations have laid off employees because they can’t make a profit. And almost every form of media is having to respond to an upheaval in a business model that had worked for decades.

When any local business declines or cuts staff, it can hurt the community. But the loss of journalists and news coverage in rural areas creates even deeper problems. It can result in less-informed residents, a decline in government transparency and responsiveness, and a void in trusted news that could be replaced by rumors and falsehoods.

That’s why journalists and trusted news organizations are more important now than ever. And that’s also why the Institute’s role in supporting journalism is more important now than even in 2004.

I took over as director of the Institute on Aug. 16. But it’s not accurate to say I’m replacing Al Cross. There’s no way to replace Al and his unique combination of expertise, skills, passion, commitment and work ethic.

Instead, my role will be to build on the foundation established by Al and others and help the Institute meet the rapidly changing needs of journalists, journalism students and news organizations, as well as the communities they serve.

The Institute has a wide reach – as organizer and host for the National Summit on Journalism in Rural America, as a resource for journalists across the country needing advice and expertise on a variety of issues, and as publisher of The Rural Blog and Kentucky Health News.

But the Institute is evolving as the needs of the journalists and news organizations it serves change. In a recent column, Al wrote about how the Institute has added to its mission the goal of sustaining rural journalism. As Al described it, “That means not just helping rural newspapers survive, but helping communities sustain local journalism that supports democracy.”

It’s a goal both simply stated and yet extraordinarily complex.

But sustaining local journalism is not only important for journalists and news organizations; it’s crucial to building stronger rural communities and a stronger Kentucky. Often, the local newspaper is the only news organization in rural communities with reporters who cover local government, education or health news.

The mission of sustaining quality journalism is a high calling. I’m looking forward to working with professional and student journalists who are working hard to keep their communities informed about important news and issues.

One of my first priorities as director of the IRJCI will be to expand our outreach. In my previous role as editorial director of Landmark’s community news division, I traveled frequently to communities where our journalists worked, helping with regional and on-site training, critiques, management issues, audience research and reader forums.

I plan to continue those types of visits as director of the Institute and in my role as extension associate professor at the School of Journalism and Media at the University of Kentucky.

We’re still early in the process of exploring ways the Institute can grow and change as it builds on its 20-year foundation. Al had already begun to lead those changes, and he will continue to serve part-time for another year as director emeritus and chief supporter of the Institute and its mission. I’m glad he will be nearby and closely involved as we determine the best course for the future.

Please reach out if we can help as you and your news organization continue your noble work – to provide local journalism that supports democracy in the communities you serve.

What's in your disaster 'go-to' bag? Project aims to get journalists better prepared for natural disasters

Journalists need to plan for disasters of all kinds.
(University of Missouri photo)
Kate Maxwell, a fellow at the  University of Missouri's Reynolds School of Journalism, advises journalists and newsrooms to start preparing now for natural disasters. Her community newsroom experience with California's Redwood Fire in October 2017 shapes her advice. She stresses the essential role reporters play throughout a crisis. 
She writes, "Unfortunately, there will always be another disaster coming at us, and our job is to be ready for it."

An edited version of her advice and project is below.

"Right now, the majority of the available training is focused on reporters who might be sent on an assignment to a distant natural disaster — not those directly impacted by a fast-moving event in their own communities. But with the rapidly accelerating climate crisis, more and more small newsrooms and independent journalists will face the need for these skills.

"As both a resident and journalist, I keep two go bags packed: one for reporting emergencies — full of battery packs and tripods, masks, safety gear, helmets, press info and sundries — and another one if I need to evacuate my home. [For your reporting bag], the best approach I've found has been identifying and assembling resources you probably already have, such as robust networks of community and connections."

Timely and accurate news throughout a natural disaster provides communities with a trusted source for information and direction. "But many local news outlets are also currently unprepared to best meet these challenges, especially when both news workers and communications infrastructure may face direct impacts from a wildfire or floods. . . . Dwindling staff jobs, antiquated distribution mechanisms or office equipment, lack of digital flexibility, or revenue challenges — not to mention adequate wages or mental health support — only add to the difficulty.

"I’ll be putting together a guide outlining tools, case studies, and best practices for community-centered reporting before, during, and after emergencies and disasters for small local newsrooms and reporters who may be facing similar situations — because it is impossible to predict or plan for when natural disasters may occur next.

"This will include strategies for newsrooms to build organizational resilience over the long term, ranging from workplace policies and staff support to revenue development. The guide will also include community engagement practices towards increasing equitable and participatory disaster reporting, examining how news outlets and reporters can provide more accessible utility and public service journalism that effectively reaches communities often excluded or ignored from official communications or legacy coverage.

"If you have questions about how to prepare your newsroom, related newsroom experience you’d like to share, resources, research or ideas about the project, I’d love to hear from you—please get in touch at"

Victims of 2016 wildfire that spread from Smokies park will get to pursue their claims against National Park Service

The town of Gatlinburg, Tennessee, was surrounded and invaded by wildfires that spread from the adjoining Great Smoky Mountains National Park in November 2016; 14 people died. (File photo by Pail Efird, Knoxville News Sentinel)

As the nation comes to grips with increased threat of wildfires, a federal court has reopened the door to damage claims from victims of a fire that burned part of a town next to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park almost seven years ago and may have been a harbinger of change.

Under a federal appeals court ruling Thursday, victims will still be able to sue the National Park Service for alleged mismanagement that led to the fire. The court "unanimously overruled a district judge who dismissed the suit over what amounted to a paperwork error," reports Tyler Whetstone of the Knoxville News Sentinel.

"U.S. District Judge Ronnie Greer ruled last year the families failed in court documents to include core assertions that are required to proceed with the lawsuit. . . . Officials have not been interviewed under oath. No one has had to answer for what went wrong that deadly Thanksgiving weekend," when 14 people died. The News Sentinel has reported that park officials were aware of the dangers the fire posed but failed to notify city or county officials until midday Nov. 28, 2016. By then fire was speeding toward Gatlinburg," a town of 4,000 that adjoins the park's main entrance.

The park's fire manager "saw weather reports calling for high winds ahead of predicted rainfall and knew trouble could be on its way" four days into the fire, Whetstone notes. "The fire was still small at the time. He texted a park firefighter saying things would be 'interesting with 60 mph gusts predicted ... not sure any of us can do much at this point.' A third-party report paid for by Gatlinburg and Sevier County after the fire said a lack of information led to the disaster."

Finally Friday quick hits: Good conversations; celebrating farm life; firefighter endurance; question mark in space

Photo by Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, Magnum via Aeon
There's nothing like a delightful chat with a fellow human. "A good conversation mixes opinions, feelings, facts and ideas in an improvisational exchange with one or more individuals in an atmosphere of goodwill. It inspires mutual insight, respect and, most of all, joy," writes Paula Marantz Cohen of Aeon. "It is a way of relaxing the mind, opening the heart and connecting, authentically, with others. To converse well is surprising, humanizing and fun."

Some just make the world better. Meet Renee Boughman, who "proved that an honor payment system can be a sustainable business model for a restaurant," reports Taylor Sisk of The Daily Yonder. "The most popular item on the menu? Feeding those in need with a dash of community building."
Successful Farming photo

The vintage vibe is a fun way to learn about the past. "Browse these Successful Farming covers ranging from 1910 to 1959 to get a glimpse of schools and students" from days gone by," reports Lisa Foust Prater of Successful Farming. "The quality of life of farm families has always been an important topic, including the education of farm children."

Fighting fires is not for the faint of heart. "A day fighting wildfires can require as much endurance as riding the Tour de France, reports Brent C. Ruby for The Conversation, a journalistic platform for academics. "The crew is participating in a study that my team from Montana is conducting to measure the physical strain and total energy demands of work on an active wildfire, with the goal of finding ways to improve firefighter fueling strategies and ultimately health and safety on the line."

NASA photo
In a world fraught with problems, even outer space is having trouble figuring things out. "NASA just found a question mark in space. The object is far outside our galactic neighborhood, possibly billions of light-years away," reports Allie Yang of National Geographic. "But astronomers have seen similar objects closer to home. What exactly is it?"

Even if a lot of food grows on trees, money doesn't. Paul Krugman of The New York Times in his opinion "Why are Groceries So Expensive?" Krugman asks: "Can we blame Bidenomics? Or are surging food prices an example of 'greedflation,' inflation caused by price gouging?"

News-media roundup: Wash. papers held out for right buyer; W.Va. public-media chief quits; Ariz. news lobbies merge

Leavenworth and Chelan County,
Washington (Wikipedia map)
The publisher of four weekly papers in north-central Washington kept "them going, barely, until new owners were found to revive them," reports Brier Dudley, free-press editor of The Seattle Times. After declining several offers, Carol Forhan sold the Leavenworth Echo, the Cashmere Valley Record, the Lake Chelan Mirror, the Brewster-based Quad City Herald and the monthly Wenatchee Business Journal to Terry Ward and Amy Yaley. Ward, a former reporter and longtime newspaper manager and publisher, told Dudley, “I think there’s a strong opportunity for a long life ahead of them.” Dudley writes, "That’s refreshing to hear from the new owner of newspapers that barely survived a plunge in business during the pandemic."

TV has challenges too: For the first time, broadcast and cable TV viewers now account for less than half of television usage in the United States "even as the prices of streaming services rise," CNBC reports on Nielsen’s monthly streaming report, The Gauge. "Usage among pay-TV customers fell to 29.6% of TV, while broadcast dropped to a 20% share during the month. Streaming made up nearly 39% of usage in July, the largest share reported since Nielsen’s first time reporting the monthly numbers in The Gauge in June 2021. . . . Year-over-year, pay-TV viewership was down 12.5%, while broadcast was down 5.4%."

West Virginia Public Broadcasting's executive director has quit after a year on the job, "the latest sign of upheaval at a news outlet recently shaken by a reporter’s allegation that she was fired for writing an unfavorable story about a division of the state health department," reports John Raby of The Associated Press. "Butch Antolini, former communications director for Gov. Jim Justice," gave no reason for his resiugnation in a letter to WVPB's board. Eddie Isom, chief operating officer and director of programming, was named interim director.

Arizona news-media trade groups merge: Following the lead of some other states, the Arizona Broadcasters Association and the Arizona Newspapers Association are merging to create the Arizona Media Association. I wish they had followed the examples of Ohio and Pennsylvania and named it the News Media Association, since the public increasingly has difficulty distinguishing among news media, social media and other forms of digital media. --Al Cross, director emeritus, Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues

Thursday, August 17, 2023

911 began when 'every household had a landline;' times have changed, but many emergency call centers haven't

911 service began in some places in 1968.
(Photo by Marissa Lewis, Unsplash)
Think everyone has switched to cellular? Think again. "Some 911 centers are still struggling to modernize their communications infrastructure—the result of funding scarcity and hesitation over the high stakes of making changes," reports Isabelle Bousquette of The Wall Street Journal. "But the continued use of legacy systems, installed when pay phones dotted city corners and every household had a landline, has led to a host of challenges for call-center operators, including misrouted calls, potentially increasing response times. U.S. regulators have estimated that as many as 10,000 lives could be saved every year by reducing 911 response times by just one minute."

The U.S. has roughly 5,700 primary and secondary public-safety answering points that respond to 911 calls, and most are "locally funded and operated, and have each taken their own path toward modernization. Overall progress has been slow," Bousquette writes. Patrick Lustig, an Oregon Department of Emergency Management member, told her: "We're using 35-year-old technology today to deliver 911 calls. Everything else has changed except the 911 system."

In 2004, the National Emergency Number Association, a nonprofit group, "came up with the vision for a 'Next Generation 911' center, which could fully take advantage of modern capabilities," Bousquette reports. NENA's goal is to move away from the old systems that "only supports voice communication to an internet-based network, capable of receiving various types of digital data, including more accurate caller location information. . . .By the end of 2022, deployments of Next Generation 911 technology covered about 56.2% of the U.S. population, according to consulting firm Frost & Sullivan. . . . For the remaining 43.8% of the population, it could be several more years. . . . Meanwhile, theyare left to contend with the limitations of their decades-old systems."

The two systems do not work well together because landlines are tied to unique geographic addresses, and cell-phone locations link to towers, resulting in emergency callers waiting to be transferred. "NENA estimates 27 million calls on legacy systems are misrouted annually, wasting precious time as the operator then has to transfer the caller to the appropriate center. . . . according to Lynne Houserman, a vice president at Motorola Solutions, a provider of services to 911 centers," Bousquette explains. "The call is then routed to a 911 center based on a decades-old database linking cell sites with call center locations. . . . But cell site boundaries are imprecise and sometimes fall within multiple 911 centers jurisdictions—meaning calls aren’t always routed to the nearest one, she said."

Inaccurate call routing isn't the only limitation. "About 40% to 45% of the country’s 911 centers still can’t accept texts, according to NENA, which described texting as critical in sensitive situations, including domestic violence incidents, as well as for the hearing-impaired," Bousquette reports. "With a Next Generation 911 network, texting is automatically enabled, Houserman said, although there are also some interim ways to make it work without the full network."

Because 911 is not a national service, funding remains the main obstacle to change. Aleisha Rucker-Wright, deputy executive director of the Georgia Emergency Communications Authority, "said the state’s ECA has been working to educate policymakers and stakeholders on Next Generation 911. She tells them things like: 'If you call and you order delivery, or you call for an Uber, they know exactly where to come to find you. … Our current 911 system, unfortunately, is not able to find you.'"

42% of rural adults in U.S. say they or someone in their family has been addicted to opioids; national figure is 30%

Kaiser Family Foundation graph, from its Health Tracking Poll (July 11-19) data

Rural Americans are much more likely to say that they or a family member have been addicted to opioids, according to a poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

KFF researchers Grace Sparks Alex Montero, Ashley Kirzinger, Isabelle Valdes and Liz Hamel Follow report, "42% of rural adults in the U.S. say they or someone in their family has been addicted to opioids; 30% in the suburbs, 20% in cities. With U.S. overdose deaths hitting a new high in 2022, a majority of adults say they have felt the impact of the substance use crisis facing the country. . . . A quarter (25%) of those who say they or a family member experienced opioid addiction, or 7% of all adults, say they or their family member were treated using medication for opioid use disorder such as buprenorphine or methadone."

Worries about addiction are also more likely to plague rural people. KFF reports that 39% of adults "are worried that someone in their family will unintentionally consume the drug fentanyl, and these concerns loom large in rural areas." Almost half (48%) of rural residents, compared to 39% in large cities and 37% in suburbs, "say they are worried that someone in their family will unintentionally consume the drug."

Opioid addiction can lay waste to families, finances and mental health, harming far more people than the addict. "Among the two-thirds who say they or a family member experienced addiction, three-quarters (76%), or 50% of all adults, say it had at least a minor impact on their relationship with their family," KFF reports. "Most also say it impacted their mental health (70%, or 46% of all adults) or their family's financial situation (57%, or 38% of all adults). Substantial shares say these were 'major' impacts, with about three in ten adults who say so when asked about their mental health (32%) and their family's financial situation (29%), and about four in ten (42%) when asked about familial relationships. A quarter (27%) of those who have had a family member suffer from addiction, but have not personally experienced addiction."

The ominous threat of any addiction has many citizens concerned. "Beyond direct experience with addiction, the poll finds many adults in the U.S. are worried about substance use," KFF reports. "For example, 51% of adults are worried that someone in their family will experience substance use disorder or an addiction to drugs or alcohol and 32% are worried that someone in their family will overdose on opioids, such as prescription painkillers or illegal drugs like heroin."

Judge rules in favor of Montana young people in a first-of-its-kind win for climate activists; decision is being appealed

Plaintiffs in Held v. Montana celebrate in Helena, the state capital.
(Photo by Thom Bridge of The Associated Press)

In a landmark decision, a Montana judge ruled in favor of young people who claimed the state's fossil fuel emissions violated their right to a "clean and healthful environment," reports Kate Selig of The Washington Post. "The court determined that a provision in the Montana Environmental Policy Act has harmed the state's environment and the young plaintiffs by preventing Montana from considering the climate impacts of energy projects. The provision is accordingly unconstitutional, the court said."

The ruling came as a surprise to some and "represents a rare victory for climate activists who have tried to use the courts to push back against government policies and industrial activities they say are harming the planet," Selig writes. "In this case, it involved 16 young Montanans, ranging in age from 5 to 22, who brought the nation's first constitutional and first youth-led climate lawsuit to go to trial. Those youths are elated by the decision, according to Our Children's Trust, which brought Held v. Montana."

The case will be appealed to the state Supreme Court, "Emily Flower, a spokesperson for Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen (R), decried the ruling as 'absurd' and said Montanans cannot be blamed for changing the climate," Selig reports. "Despite the track record of dismissals for youth-led climate cases in the United States, experts said the Montana youths had an advantage in the state's constitution, which guarantees a right to a 'clean and healthful environment.' Montana, a major coal producer, is home to the largest recoverable coal reserves in the country. The plaintiff's attorneys say the state has never denied a permit for a fossil fuel project."

In an unexpected choice, the state did not use a debunking-climate-change defense, but focused on arguing that the legislature, not the courts, should decide what the law means. Michael Gerrard, the founder of Columbia University's Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, told her: "Everyone expected them to put on a more vigorous defense. And they may have concluded that the underlying science of climate change was so strong that they didn't want to contest it." Selig reports, "The state’s defense was unsuccessful. Judge Kathy Seeley determined that the state’s emissions could be fairly traced to the legal provision blocking Montana from reviewing the climate impacts of energy projects. She further wrote that the state’s emissions and climate change have caused harm to the environment and the youth plaintiffs."

"Republican state lawmakers and a petroleum industry representative said that while they are hopeful the state's appeal will be successful. . . . Seeley's decision could result in fewer energy projects being permitted or subject permitting decisions to cumbersome litigation," Selig reports. "Though it remains to be seen whether the Montana Supreme Court will uphold Seeley's findings, experts said the favorable verdict for the youths could influence how judges approach similar cases in other states and prompt them to apply 'judicial courage' in addressing climate change."

News deserts are fertile ground for partisan websites that give readers information through the lenses they prefer

"America’s growing news deserts have become vulnerable to wealthy partisans setting up local news outlets to push their political agendas. This has raised concerns about one-sided, politically-motivated narratives being strong-armed into local political discourse," Jem Bartholomew and Dhrumil Mehta of Columbia University's Tow Center for Digital Journalism, report for Columbia Journalism Review

Their story is about Wyoming and a conservative news outlet called Cowboy State Daily, which started in 2019 and hired some journalists with good reputations, but "from the start the outlet’s political agenda seemed heavily weighted in one direction," CJR reports. "Cowboy State Daily’s energy reporting has appeared to throw doubt on the reality of man-made climate change, which is the consensus among the global scientific community." CJR found a similar bias on transgender issues.

"In Wyoming, the heightened importance of trans issues and other culture war topics (banning books, curtailing abortion rights) in the legislature follows a change in the state’s political strand of Republicanism. Former Casper Star-Tribune reporter Nick Reynolds, now senior politics reporter at Newsweek, told CJR, “There was this real libertarian ethic”—a belief the state should keep out of most issues—“that is starting to disappear” In its place is "a more state-interventionist conservatism, through which populist politicians are wielding governmental power to take on 'wokeness' by outlawing books and banning abortion and gender affirmation surgery," CJR reports.

"There are concerns declining standards of local journalism will have implications for the health of democracy," Bartholomew and Mehta write. Their story is bookended by comments from Matt Copeland, chief executive and editor of the nonprofit newsroom WyoFile: “You can see it time and time again around the globe, and certainly here in the U.S., that less savory information is going to flood in to fill that vacuum” making it “difficult for folks to participate in civic life in a fully-informed way,” he said. CJR reports, "When WyoFile was founded, in 2009, it arrived as an outlet dedicated to enterprise reporting that topped-up the important daily news of Wyoming’s legacy papers. Back then, 'We were maybe providing the protein to the carbs and dessert' of other media offerings, he said. Today, 'We’re the protein and the leafy greens and the whole grains—and increasingly the rest of the landscape is doing more of [just] the dessert.'

"In this sense, Wyoming’s experience—declining local news, a vacuum of good information, a mega-rich partisan setting up a news outlet that has pushed anti-trans views and climate misinformation—is an alarm bell for the rest of America. If local news cannot find a route to sustainability, actors with cash and questionable motives are free to inject their talking points into the political bloodstream. It’s a warning for where we’re heading as news deserts take hold."

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Kansas paper publishes on schedule despite police seizure of computers etc., which attorney and judge get returned

Marion County Record Publisher Eric Meyer talked with journalists after his weekly newspaper hit the stands Wednesday. The subhead reads "but not silenced". (Kansas Reflector photo by Sherman Smith; for a larger version, click on it.)

Screenshot of home page
The Marion County Record published its regular weekly edition today, after an all-nighter, and won another victory when the county attorney and a judge told local police who had seized the Kansas newspaper's computers and other materials last Friday to return them.

“I have come to the conclusion that insufficient evidence exists to establish a legally sufficient nexus between this alleged crime and the places searched and the items seized,” said County Attorney Joel Ensley, who had sought the search warrants. “I have submitted a proposed order asking the court to release the evidence seized. I have asked local law enforcement to return the material seized to the owners of the property.” District Judge Ben Sexton signed the order Wednesday morning, and the property was returned to the paper. Publisher Eric Meyer said it would undergo forensic examination "to find out whether law enforcement had accessed or reviewed any of their records."

Ensley said the Kansas Bureau of Investigation would make a report to him, after which he would decide if there was evidence “to support a charge for any offense.” The KBI said it would continue its work without examining any evidence seized last Friday, The Associated Press reports. Ensley also said he would ask the county District Court to release the affidavit that was the basis for the warrants signed by Magistrate Judge Laura Viar, reports Sherman Smith of the Kansas Reflector.

Viar signed the warrants "under the pretense that [Gideon] Cody, the police chief, had reason to believe a newspaper reporter committed identity theft and unlawful use of a computer," Smith reports. "It wasn’t clear what evidence would support such a search warrant, or if Cody and Viar understood the significance of raiding a newsroom." Katherine Jacobsen, program coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists, said at the newspaper office that "She wasn’t aware of any other example of police raiding a newsroom in United States history," the Reflector reports.

The Record has been investigating Cody's employment history, but has not published a story. Meyer told Marisa Kabas of The Handbasket, a Substack newsletter, "The allegations—including the identities of who made the allegations—were on one of the computers that got seized. I may be paranoid that this has anything to do with it, but when people come and seize your computer, you tend to be a little paranoid."

Though his paper was investigating Cody, Meyer told his department about another then-unpublished investigation, of a local restaurateur, that was prompted by a tip Meyer deemed suspicious. When he told the police, they told the restaurateur, who then complained about the paper at a city council meeting, prompting the Record to publish a story. The warrant mentioned the restaurateur and possible identity theft and unlawful use of a computer. Meyer said the paper merely used a state website to get public information.

The day after police raided his office and the home he shared with his 98-year-old mother, she collapsed and died, and Meyer blamed her death on the raids. Joan Meyer had worked 50 years at the paper, where her husband was an award-winning editor for its previous owner and her son was her co-owner for 25 years. Her funeral will be held Saturday.

"Meyer said his mother would be pleased by the outpouring of support the newspaper has received in recent days," Smith reports. "That includes 2,000 new subscriptions for a newspaper that previously had a circulation of about 4,000." Navy veteran Dennis Calvert "drove from Wichita to purchase a six-month subscription" and told Smith, “What the P.D. did here, in my opinion, from what I know, they are ****ing out of line,” Calvert said. “They are totally off the ****ing board. They’ve lost their morals, man. . . . In my opinion, right now, the police chief should be sitting over here in the jail.”

How a town of 2,500 people is trying to hold onto its rural identity as it becomes 'inundated' with new residents

Pageland's  motto is "The Watermelon Capital of the World."
(Photo by David Yeazell, The Post and Courier)
It's not easy staying a quaint town when lots of people want to move in. "Pageland, a town of 2,500 people on the South Carolina-North Carolina state line, is changing. As the Charlotte metro area spills over the border, the community has become inundated with people looking for more affordable, convenient housing," reports Seth Taylor Staylor of The Post and Courier in Charleston, S.C. "Pageland's population will double by the end of the decade if development continues at the current pace."

That kind of growth provides smaller towns like Pageland economic opportunities, but can also change what was once a close-knit town into something much different. Pageland residents "worry about overcrowded schools, inadequate infrastructure, emergency services stretched thin and the rising cost of living. They worry that the town’s identity will be lost," Staylor reports. Tim Griffin, the town's Chamber of Commerce president, is worrying the town is losing its battle to hold onto its small-town vibe. He told Staylor: “We’ve got to manage our growth. And we’ve got to be very proud of who we are, so people want to be a part of that. . . . It’s scary because what’s coming is unknown to us.” map, adapted
Some longtime residents say the change "isn't necessarily a bad change, but it's a noticeable one," Staylor reports. Robin Usher, a third-generation resident of Pageland, told Staylor, “In the community, just going to the grocery store and not knowing people is new because, for so long, we knew everybody at the grocery store when we shopped. We don’t know everyone now.” Staylor adds, "Officials said Pageland’s growth is largely driven by the housing market in Charlotte — an hour away — bursting at the seams."

Staylor reports, "For much of Pageland’s 115-year history, it’s been isolated by limited economic opportunities and its distance from other cities, Adam Foard, a Pageland attorney who has spent his life in the town said. . . . Now, Pageland’s destiny is very much out of its own hands. What’s more, many of the people moving to Pageland see it as a springboard to urban life in Charlotte rather than a place with a rural lifestyle all its own." Foard told Staylor: "It was not (that) people discovered Pageland and decided that Pageland was a nirvana seven miles across the state line. . . Pageland became acceptable when they could no longer get what they needed over the state line.”

As local services and government struggle to keep up, "Pageland officials voted to approve a substantial impact fee this spring . . . to pay for the numerous enhancements the city will need to keep up with growth," Staylor reports. "The cost to different developments depends on the type of building and the resources it will consume, according to an impact fee study produced for the town. A typical single-family home will be expected to pay more than $8,000 when the building permit is issued and almost $3,000 when the house connects to water and sewer." Shane Sligh, the town administrator, told Staylor, "At the end of the day, we’ve got to be able to provide new residences with the same services that we’re providing."

Mom said, 'Go outside and play!' Another study shows outdoor time gives rural children stronger immune systems

Blowing bubbles is a cheap, fun way to get kids outside.
(Photo by Maxime Bhm, Unsplash)
What do nature scavenger hunts, blowing bubbles and reading books under a shady park tree all have in common? Kids have to go outside to do them, which keeps children busy and, according to a study published in the medical journal Allergy, helps children develop more robust immune systems, reports Richard Gawel of Healio: "Children raised in rural environments with lots of time outdoors and some exposure to animals had immune systems that were better regulated than children raised in urban environments."

While human immune systems are adaptive throughout life, study researchers note, "specific exposures in early life may have more significant effects on the developing immune system, with potentially long-term impacts." This study isn't the first to establish that connection, but offers new details.

Researcher Liam O'Mahony, an immunology professor at University College Cork, Ireland, told Gawel: "Our study found that many of the important environmental factors were linked with altered exposure to microbes during the first few years of a young child's life, a crucial stage in shaping a person's immune system. . . . This ‘immunological window of opportunity’ plays a critical role in establishing the limitations and reaction trajectories of our immune system that stay with us for life and influence the risk of immune-mediated diseases." Gawel adds, "Exposures to animals and sunlight accounted for the most statistically significant differences between the rural and urban clusters."

Parents and child care providers often tell kids, "Go outside and play!" This research supports that mantra, but more broadly, researchers hope to use it to develop "'therapies for preventing chronic immune-mediated disorders,'" Gewal reports. “'Growing our understanding of the mechanisms and role of environment on immune development is highly important, and research such as this can help pave the way for new developments in early disease diagnosis and expediting interventions for more specific and safe modulation of immune activity,' O'Mahony said." 

Rural teen drivers face equipment, curvy roads and wildlife encounters; back-to-school is a good time for safety review

Teen drivers face a variety of roads and equipment.
(Photo from Successful Farming)
Rural teenage drivers face unique challenges, from learning to handle tractors and ATVs at a young age to navigating around slow, bulky agricultural equipment on curvy rural roads. Back-to-school planning offers an excellent opportunity to review the dangers of driving on rural roads and how to avoid accidents, writes Lisa Foust Prater of Successful Farming: "According to the Progressive Agriculture Foundation, death from an accident is 2.5 times more likely to occur in rural areas than urban ones. Large, slow-moving machinery; loose gravel and soft shoulders; and wildlife such as deer all play a part in the increased risk."

Parents can help their teen drivers by reinforcing safety as the priority. Prater notes, "Teenagers don't have fully developed thought processes yet. If they're running behind in the morning, they are probably worried about being late for school and may drive too fast. Remind them that a tardy slip is no big deal compared to an automobile accident that could involve injuries — or worse — and thousands of dollars in damages."

While back-to-school driving may mean more routine travel, time-off can also pose risks. Prater reports, "On the weekends, according to PAF, a U.S. teenager dies in a traffic accident every hour." The group offers these guidelines:

  • Always wear seat belts and insist that passengers do, as well.
  • Drive cautiously and within the speed limit.
  • Be patient when driving behind a large or slow-moving vehicle; be aware you may not be able to see oncoming traffic.
  • Pass only when the road is clear.
  • Ride with your children occasionally and continue to teach them even after they have a driver's license.
  • Never let anyone ride in the bed of a pickup truck.

Success of medication-assisted drug treatment will rest on providers and pharmacists working together, advocates say

Pharmacists will play a maor role in medication-assisted treatment.
(Photo by Tbel Abusezine, Unsplash)
The federal government has opened the door to addiction treatment wider by removing a requirement that providers be trained and apply for a waiver from the Drug Enforcement Administration to prescribe buprenorphine, "a primary drug used to treat opioid-use disorder," reports Taylor Sisk of The Daily Yonder. "Now, those providers with a current DEA registration that includes Schedule III authority can prescribe it." But that's just the start of a new day in drug treatment.

Dr. Blake Fagan, director of opioid-treatment services for the Mountain Area Health Education Center's family health centers in western North Carolina, is "a longtime advocate for the lifting of the X-waiver," as it was called. "Fagan said that while there have been some 130,000 providers across the country authorized to prescribe buprenorphine, there will now be more than 1.8 million. . . . Dr. Bayla Ostrach, a medical anthropologist with Fruit of Labor Action Research and Technical Assistance in the region, told Sisk: "We know that [buprenorphine is] evidence-based; we know that it's more important than ever with fentanyl and xylazine in the drug supply. We want more buprenorphine prescriptions."

The federal change, made in an omnibus bill late last year, is only one part of helping rural areas address the opioid epidemic. "Ostrach, Fagan, and others who know rural health care and addiction treatment well stress that a lot of education will be required," Sisk writes. "In a recent paper for the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association, Ostrach and their colleagues write that "If prescribing increases but is not matched by increased dispensing, bottlenecks may worsen. Any worsening of buprenorphine bottlenecks could have a disproportionate impact in rural areas where residents may rely on fewer pharmacies to fill prescriptions." Sisk notes, Resistance among pharmacists is a widespread issue. Research Ostrach and their colleagues conducted found that 62%of community pharmacists surveyed had refused to fill a buprenorphine prescription."

Countering phamacists' resistance is part of tackling addiction's stigma. The more opioid addiction and treatment are understood and treatment protocols accepted, the more the medical community can approach it as any other mental/physical disorder. "Ostrach said North Carolina’s pharmacist association has been proactive in providing guidance on the specifics of the act, and that it does appear recent pharmacy school graduates are more willing than their predecessors to dispense buprenorphine," Sisk reports. Fagan told Sisk: “You have to give people time to ask their questions. . . . You have to let them say all those things, get it out, and then tell them the real deal. Tell them stories about people in rural areas who have actually stabilized their lives, or they’ve gotten their kids back from foster care.”

Dr. Travis Williams is a young practitioner advocating for medication-assisted treatment in rural areas. "He’s building collaborative relationships with a peer recovery support specialist and a prevention specialist. He’s working to bring more pharmacies on board," Sisk reports. "It’s about building an addiction prevention ecosystem, Williams stressed. . . . Facilitating medication in treatment is a critical step on the path to building that ecosystem."

Sign-up is open for Brushy Fork Institute's Leadership Summit for rural communities at Berea College Nov. 2-3

Building up your rural community's civic ecosystem begins with wise leadership training, including infrastructure planning. To help smaller communities gain that expertise, the Brushy Fork Institute is offering a Leadership Summit at Berea College in Kentucky this November 2-3.

This year's summit is titled "Leading Through Resilience: Imagining the Future." Brushy Fork says it will provide attendees with high-quality workshops designed to create new connections between participants while facilitating active knowledge on leading robust development. The goal is to help rural areas go beyond resilience in the face of difficulty to designing a practical plan that includes anticipated future obstacles and ways to deal with those problems before they happen.

Brushy Fork's website gives a detailed agenda, costs, parking, accommodations, and other important logistical information. The keynote address from Invest Appalachia CEO Andrew Crosson and workshop tracts are highlighted with details. The site includes a button that links to their official 2023 Summit registration form on Eventbrite. If you have questions, call 859-985-3858 or email

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

America's shift to wind, solar and other clean energy has gained surprising momentum, even in fossil-energy areas

NYT graph based on The Energy Institute’s 2023 Statistical Review of World Energy
U.S. energy trends show the winds of change are blowing as the country switches from fossil fuels to clean energy. "Delivery vans in Pittsburgh. Buses in Milwaukee. Cranes loading freight at the Port of Los Angeles. Every municipal building in Houston. All are powered by electricity derived from the sun, wind or other sources of clean energy," report David Gelles, Brad Plumer, Jim Tankersley and Jack Ewing of The New York Times in the main runner of a three-story package. "A profound shift is taking place that is nearly invisible to most Americans. The nation that burned coal, oil and gas for more than a century to become the richest economy on the planet and historically the most polluting is rapidly shifting away from fossil fuels."

Historically, Europe's transition to renewable energy has outpaced the U.S. "But the United States is catching up, and globally, change is happening at a pace that is surprising even the experts who track it closely," the Times reports. "Wind and solar power are breaking records, and renewables are now expected to overtake coal by 2025 as the world's largest source of electricity. Automakers have made electric vehicles central to their business strategies and are openly talking about an expiration date on the internal combustion engine. Heating, cooling, cooking and some manufacturing are going electric."

The transition is worldwide. "The cost of generating electricity from the sun and wind is falling fast and in many areas is now cheaper than gas, oil or coal. Private investment is flooding into companies that are jockeying for advantage in emerging green industries. . . . As the planet registers the highest temperatures on record, rising in some places to levels incompatible with human life," the Times reports. "More than $1.7 trillion worldwide is expected to be invested in technologies such as wind, solar power, electric vehicles and batteries globally this year, according to the International Energy Agency, compared with just over $1 trillion in fossil fuels. That is by far the most ever spent on clean energy in a year. Those investments are driving explosive growth."

In many areas, economic investment in renewables is prompting regional change. The city "once known as the 'Oil Capital of the World' where the minor league baseball team is the "Drillers" is immersed in a new energy revolution," the Times reports. "As the workday begins in Tulsa, Okla., the assembly line at the electric school bus factory rattles to life. Crews fan out across the city to install solar panels on century-old Tudor homes. Teslas and Ford F-150 Lightnings pull up to charging stations powered in part by the country's second-largest wind farm. And at the University of Tulsa's School of Petroleum Engineering, faculty are working on ways to use hydrogen as a clean energy source."

U.S. government investments have helped move the needle for American clean energy. "A $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure law provided money to enhance the power grid, buy electric buses for schools and build a national network of electric vehicle chargers," the Times reports. "Regulations are also hastening the energy transition. Mr. Biden has proposed tough new federal pollution limits on tailpipes and smokestacks, but several states are acting on their own."

"The shift is happening so quickly that some of America’s most iconic automakers are preparing for a world beyond gasoline-powered cars and trucks," the Times reports. "General Motors, which has the largest market share of any carmaker in the United States, has committed to selling only zero-emissions vehicles by 2035. It’s a 'once-in-a-generation inflection point' for the 114-year-old automaker, according to Mary Barra, GM’s chief executive."

Changing how the federal government defines 'persistent poverty' areas could hurt rural communities, writers say

A 'centroid' is a circle with its center at the center of a geographic shape. (Economic Innovation Group map, via The Daily Yonder, based on census data and five-year estimates from Census Bureau's American Community Survey, a national poll)
Changing how persistent poverty is determined could reduce rural communities' chances of receiving federal aid, report Keith Wiley and Joe Belden for The Daily Yonder: "In a detailed new report, the Economic Innovation Group says that using counties as the unit of evaluation for 'persistent poverty' means that poor urban neighborhoods get overlooked when their economic performance is averaged with more prosperous parts of an urban county. The result is a picture of persistent poverty that skews rural. . . . That problem could be addressed by looking at persistent poverty in census tracts, a smaller geographic measure, rather than in the traditional focus on counties."

Persistent poverty is now defined by county. Counties "where more than 20% of the population has lived below the federally defined poverty level for 30 years" are included, the Yonder reports. How long-term poverty is measured is significant because it decides which areas qualify for "special federal support" to address the problem.

"The U.S. has 415 persistently poor counties with 20.5 million people. The South is home to 81% of these counties, and 84% of the 415 counties are non-metro," Wiley and Belden explain. When census tracts are used, the picture skews urban. "Over 9,400 census tracts are persistently poor and have a population of 34.2 million people. The population increase in going from a county to a census tract methodology is in metropolitan areas. The study recommends defining persistent poverty areas as those with four contiguous persistently poor census tracts."

Rural areas already struggle to get "government assistance and lack the dedicated funds, which larger communities receive" through grants/entitlements," Wiley and Belden write. That means more rural areas have to compete for assistance "rather than [receive funding] in the guaranteed entitlements received by larger urban areas. . . . These smaller places often have the least capacity to produce a winning proposal."

Should the definition of "persistent poverty" change, a series of unintended consequences could unfold, leaving more of rural America without needed assistance as the definition refocuses efforts in urban areas that often have the advantage of shouldering more urban, resourced areas. It is easier to "invest in an area in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area than an isolated Central Appalachian county," Wiley and Belden add. "Part of what makes persistent poverty counties chronically poor is their isolation and difficulty to serve."

They acknowledge, "It is true that the current definition on a county basis does overlook persistent poverty pockets in urban/suburban areas. These communities need investment and focused policies, something that should be promoted. Overall, this very important and ground-breaking study deserves consideration. But would focusing on census tracts rather than counties lead to less attention to rural poverty? Rural advocates need a seat at the table."

White lawmen in Mississippi plead guilty in case where they tortured black men; lawyer says first such verdict in state

Brett McAlpin, chief investigator for the sheriff's office, got the call
and gave the initial order to investigate. (Photos by Mississippi Today)
Six white former law enforcement officers charged with beating, torturing and sexually abusing two handcuffed black men and shooting one of them pleaded guilty Monday to hindering prosecution, in what appears to be a landmark case in a state with a deep history of racism.

“To my knowledge, never in the history of Mississippi have, in particular, white officers been held to account for brutality against Black victims,” Trent Walker, attorney for Eddie Parker and Michael Jenkins, told Mississippi Today. They were living with, and providing care to, a white woman in Rankin County, which is a destination for many whites leaving Hinds County, to the south.

"Goon Squad" members carried this coin. (Mississippi Today)
The six were "part of a 'Goon Squad' operation aimed at getting African Americans to 'go back' to the predominantly Black city of Jackson . . . nicknamed because of the group’s willingness to beat people up during arrests," Mississippi Today reports. "The officers previously pleaded guilty to multiple federal charges related to the beating, torture, unwarranted search and coverup. Sentencing hearings are set for mid-November." The sentence recommendations range from 80 to 120 years. State sentence recommendations are five to 15 years. The hindering-prosecution charge stems from the officers' attempted cover-up, Michael Goldberg of The Associated Press reports.

Nate Rosenfield, Jerry Mitchell and Brian Howey of Mississippi Today relate the details, starting with: "On the evening of Jan. 24, a white neighbor informed McAlpin that 'several Black males' were living in the home of a white woman in the neighborhood. According to the criminal information, the neighbor claimed he had seen “suspicious behavior” in the home. Without a warrant, they kicked the doors down. The officers shouted orders that the two men complied with, according to the criminal information" filed against the defendants.

Farm Bill will be late; neither party has presented their version of it as Congress focuses on the federal budget

The omnibus Farm Bill has a lot of proverbial eggs in
its basket. (Photo by Autumn Mott Rodeheaver, Unsplash)

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.) confirmed that this year's Farm Bill has been delayed to the point that Congress will need to extend the 2018 Farm Bill, reports Chuck Abbott of Successful Farming: "It was the first direct acknowledgment by one of the 'four corners' of farm policy — the House and Senate Agriculture committees leaders — that the 2023 Farm Bill would be late."

"Congress often misses its Farm Bill deadlines, sometimes by a year or more, despite early vows to move with due speed and complete work on time," notes AgInsider of the Food and Environment Reporting Network. The last two bills have been delayed by Republican efforts to expand work requirements in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps. This year's Farm Bill looks to be another battleground for SNAP, among other items. Abbott reports, "The 2023 Farm Bill is expected to be the most expensive ever, with chapters on commodity subsidies, SNAP, ag research, rural development, crop insurance, food aid, export promotion, farm credit, forestry, and land stewardship. Conservative Republicans are expected to propose limits on access to SNAP."

"The chairwoman, Debbie Stabenow, is continuing to work toward a bipartisan bill that can be signed into law by the end of the year," a Senate Agriculture Committee spokesman told Abbott, who notes, "Several farm-state lawmakers have used similar language, framing the goal as presidential enactment this year rather than by Sept. 30, when provisions of the 2018 law begin to expire. Dairy would be the first commodity to be affected, on Jan. 1."

Congress is working on this year's federal budget, which is supposed to start Oct. 1, and "The Farm Bill would take secondary importance," Abbott writes. Neither the House nor Senate have presented their "first-round Farm Bill draft. . . .Thompson said he would unveil his version of the bill and seek a committee vote when GOP House leaders reserve a week for floor debate of the legislation." Thompson told Abbott: “The whole sequence is driven when leadership gives me a week, and maybe that will be in September. Maybe it won’t. I don’t know.”

News-media roundup: Presses dwindle; why the Kansas raid was unusual; family-owned daily marks 175 years

"Many residents in rural areas with poor internet access still rely on printed papers for local news." So says the American Press Institiute, painting with a broad and somewhat loose brush in noting the Medill Local News Initiative's report on press closures. Mark Caro pegs his piece to the shutdown of the press at Gannett Co.'s Pueblo Chieftain, first noted here last month, and examines the lack of any newspaper press in Vermont. Presses have been shutting down all over for decades, largely due to ownership consolidation, leading to earlier deadlines, changed publication schedules, longer drives, higher costs and a few newspaper closures. Anna Brugmann, policy director for the Rebulld Local News Coalition, told Caro that rural publishers discuss the need for “a runway” to transition to digital, but “Chopping off the runway altogether means the plane runs aground.”

Why is a police raid on a newspaper in Kansas so unusual? asks The Associated Press. David Bauder and Jim Salter write, "It’s very rare. . . . Police have confiscated material at newspapers, but usually because they are seeking evidence to help investigate someone else’s crime, not a crime the journalists were allegedly involved in, said Clay Calvert, an expert on First Amendment law at the American Enterprise Institute. . . . The Marion raid 'appears to have violated federal law, the First Amendment, and basic human decency,' said Seth Stern, advocacy director for the Freedom of the Press Foundation. 'Everyone involved should be ashamed of themselves.'"

"One of the oldest newspapers still owned by the same family" celebrates its 175th anniversary in Celina, Ohio, this month. "The Daily Standard and the genealogy of the Snyder family are, for all intents and purposes, one and the same. That makes this newspaper both a cherished family heirloom and a critical public trust," the paper says. "The family watched as corporations gutted newsrooms and cut back on local news coverage in pursuit of higher profits and the adverse effects these moves had on the communities they served. . . . It's a tough fight for a family-owned newspaper to stay afloat in a world where people expect free news content on the internet, but one worth waging to keep residents informed of happenings in their local governments, schools and communities."

Still native, but not only American: "The Native American Journalists Association announced Friday it is changing its name to the Indigenous Journalists Association in an effort to become more inclusive and strengthen ties with Indigenous journalists worldwide," AP reports. The change was announced at the group's annual conference in Winnipeg, Manitoba, after members voted 89-55 in favor of it. "About 400 Indigenous members were eligible to vote."

Monday, August 14, 2023

Police raid of Kansas weekly was prompted by a tip that didn't result in a story until the target publicly complained

Wikipedia map, adapted
Local law-enforcement officers raided the office of a rural weekly newspaper in Kansas and the home of its publisher and his 98-year-old mother Friday, contributing to her death the next day, the Marion County Record reports, telling its own story.

"The raid is one of several recent cases of local authorities taking aggressive actions against news organizations — some of which are part of a dwindling cohort left in their area to hold governments to account," write Steve Lee Myers and Benjamin Mullin of The New York Times. "Raids of news organizations are exceedingly rare in the United States, with its long history of legal protections for journalists."

The Record, in a town of 1,900 in a county of 11,500, "is uncommonly aggressive for its size," 4,000 circulation, Myers and Mullin report. Publisher Eric Meyer told the Times that the weekly "has stoked the ire of some local leaders for its vigorous reporting on Marion County officials," including the employment history of Police Chief Gideon Cody.

Eric Meyer (Photo by Chase Castor for The New York Times)
The search warrant for the raid mentions restaurateur Kari Newell and cites "potential violations of laws involving identity theft and the illegal use of a computer," the Times reports. After Newell ejected Meyer and reporter Phyllis Zorn from an event with the area's congressman, the paper reported on it, prompting a tip to Zorn that Newell was trying to get her driver's license reinstated from a 2008 DUI charge so she could get a liquor license pending before the state and the Marion City Council. Zorn confirmed the charge via a state website. "Newell said that someone had unlawfully used her identity to obtain private information about her online," the Times reports.

"Meyer decided not to publish a story about the information, and he alerted police to the situation," report Sherman Smith and Sam Bailey of the Kansas Reflector, quoting him: “We thought we were being set up.” Police told Newell, "who then complained at a city council meeting that the newspaper had illegally obtained and disseminated sensitive documents, which isn’t true," the Reflector reports. "Her public comments prompted the newspaper to set the record straight in a story published Thursday." The raid came at 11 a.m. the next day.

"Newell framed the dispute as a straightforward violation of her privacy by the newspaper rather than a First Amendment battle," the Times reports, quoting her: “I firmly believe that this was a vindictive move, full of malice,” which she says was caused by her ejection of the Record from the meeting at her restaurant, John Hanna and Mergery Beck of The Associated Press report. In another story, they report widespread criticism of the raid. Editor & Publisher has a roundup.

Meyer is a former reporter for the old Milwaukee Journal and a retired professor at the University of Illinois, "whose father worked at the newspaper from 1948 until he retired." Meyer bought the paper in 1998 to keep it from being sold to a larger chain, the Reflector reports. He told the Times that much is at stake: “If we don’t fight back, and we don’t win in fighting back, it’s going to silence everybody.”

UPDATE, Aug. 15: Bill Ketter, senior vice president of news for Community Newspaper Holdings Inc., one of the larger chains, wrote a column for CNHI papers in which he says "Anti-press rhetoric has also whiplashed small town America at a time when local newspapers are more needed than ever. They are a cornerstone of rural democracy."