rural journalism

My mother was the editor of the only daily paper in our rural Tennessee congressional district for some of my growing up years (she went on to become the state bureau chief for UPI in Nashville).

I loved hanging out in the tiny newsroom at this small-town daily, watching folks cover local news. I loved listening to the single police scanner radio on the single police reporter's desk. I liked the way the real printing press smelled and sounded. I liked sitting in the darkroom with the lone photographer, watching him work with the chemicals under that single red lightbulb (actually, everyone who worked there did some of the photography at one time or another). I loved watching the single page designer manually cut and lay out the news pages with her exacto knives. While my mother typed at her desk, I woud sit under the desk and scribble my own news stories, which she always told me were absolutely brilliant.

The publisher was a dying breed - this was a family owned newspaper -- and he was a real, old-time, elderly, southern newspaper publisher who had a hand in every editorial decision. He was very gruff but also very sweet. He always gave my brother and sister and me a hug and a piece of candy when we were hanging around my mother's desk. He also always asked me very specific questions about what I was doing at school (he was particularly pleased, I recall, that I was studying Latin) and he always asked me how I had done in my last horse show.

I have a fondness for smalltown newspapers -- particularly in the south.

So I am happy to learn about this rural journalism initiative at the University of Kentucky. Protecting and promoting citizen journalism in rural areas is important -- I like to think that new media may breathe life back into this area of news reporting.

1 comment:

The Humanity Critic said...

Great post. Just passing through, I'm digging the blog by the way.