Stories to localize: mental illness and drug addiction

The stigma that still surround mental illness and drug addiction, especially in rural areas, are major obstacles to addressing those issues. Rural news media can play an important role in reducing stigma and helping individuals and communities face up to their problems and deal with them. The Paducah Sun saw that opportunity when a 13-year-old

Publisher tells why she decided to run for school board

Editor’s note: Stamford publisher Callie Metler-Smith recently ran for and won a local school board position — an unconventional move in a profession that has long held that journalists should stay out of politics.  We asked her to explain why she did it. As small town newspaper publishers, editors, and reporters we all know the

Engaging with readers by covering the news that matters to them

One of the wisest comments I ever heard from a newspaper editor was from my friend John Nelson, editorial director of Landmark Community Newspapers. It went something like this: “We need to give readers what they want, but we must also give them what they need – and make them want what they need.” John

National politics generate local story ideas

As newspaper publishers worried about tariffs on newsprint, farmers and others in rural America worried about tariffs on other products that could spark a trade war. The Rural Blog is keeping its readers current on trade and many other issues; here’s a sampling of stories from the last couple of months. One-third of U.S. soybeans

Proposed newsprint tariff could be devastating for local newspapers

In 1787 Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to Edward Carrington, whom he had sent as a delegate to the Continental Congress. In the letter, Jefferson stressed the importance of a free press, specifically newspapers. Jefferson understood that one of the most important checks on government power was a well-informed electorate. “The people are the only

Trump owes his victory to rural America

Sixteen months ago, Donald J. Trump surprised most of the world and probably himself by winning the presidential election. He couldn’t have done it without rural America. The numbers in the exit polls were clear.  Trump won 62 percent of the rural vote, more than any modern president.  And here’s the statistic that shows just

Newspapers must operate as a business to carry out their First Amendment function

This past weekend my plans included a much-anticipated trip to the movies to see “The Post.” Starring Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep, the movie chronicles a time involving the Pentagon Papers and The Washington Post’s decision to publish them. Facing legal battles up to an injunction to cease publication by the Supreme Court, the paper

20 tips on covering speeches and meetings

You are the eyes, ears and brains for your audience when you cover a City Council, County Commissioners or a school board meeting. The following 20 tips help you produce an accurate, informative news story on deadline.  These tips also work for speeches and panels. Use a smartphone and a notebook Take a photo of

Looking at the future of community newspapers

Editor’s Note:  This blogpost was a speech given by Al Cross at a meeting of the Texas Press Association in January 2018 in Galveston. . . . First time I’ve been to Galveston, but have been to Texas many times, and always feel at home here; maybe it’s because your state was settled mainly by

Stick to the basics: Present all sides of a story

Most reporters can likely relate to this scenario. Someone speaks up at a public meeting to unleash criticism about an individual or organization. Reporters have little difficulty presenting a balanced report – recording all sides of the story – if the accused is at the meeting. But what happens if the individual is not present?