The Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues is receiving this year's Media Award from the East Kentucky Leadership Foundation tonight in Hazard, Ky. "The Institute serves as a public policy center to help rural journalists grasp the local impact of broader issues, find sources, and develop new story approaches," reports Marie Luby of WYMT-TV in Hazard.
The Institute is being recognized for its role helping rural journalists tackle tough stories and keeping rural communities informed. "It's a lot more difficult to be a good, ethical, hard-nosed journalist in a small town than it is a big city because you never know when someone's going to come in, walk right in to your office, no receptionist or security guard, and start banging on your desk about something you wrote," IRJCI Director Al Cross told Luby.
The Institute was founded by the University of Kentucky in 2001 and staffed in 2004 with the hiring of Cross, thanks to a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Its initial focus was on Appalachia, and though it quickly became a national program, the region and the state are its homes. The university has adopted the program, which is raising money for an endowment to expand its work.