Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues

  • Moore, Roy (PI)
  • Barnes, Beth (CoI)

Grants and Contracts Details


Many regions of the rural United States, as well as Appalachia, are confronted with bleak prospects. TheInstitute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues (IRJCI) \\-ill build links between regional,comprehensive universities and rural media to stimulate insightful stories about education, health, jobs, andthe environment. Socio-economic challenges include Wal-Marting of the retail economy, export of bluecollar jobs, out migration of "the best and brightest," aging and unhealthy populations, and fadingcommunity identity and civic lethargy. Noting that weak news coverage of these challenges is itself anissue, our committee secured funds from the Society of Professional Journalists and the AppalachianRegional Commission ($55,000 total) to look at the causes. We further established the need for a campaign on behalf of a "new localism" by running conferences with journalists, academics, and community leaders;by commissioning an economic scan of Central Appalachia, directed by MDC, Inc. of Chapel Hill, NC,and from the University ofNC-Chapel Hill, a preliminary survey on the impact of media buyouts on staffand communities. The changes in media that we noted included increased takeover by chains of small dailies and weeklies and "sundowner" radio stations. Some ofthese buyouts bring improvement to small news properties, but our survey suggests that in many cases they do not. A risk for corporatization of media, especially in rural markets, appears to be a debt load that has compromised news resources, and with larger papers constricted circulation, and de-emphasized rural coverage. Glaringly noticeable in our funded research was the failure of papers and stations to tap higher education for editorial help and the failure of higher education in outreach and regional service in policy areas. With the support of the mass media, the Appalachian region could serve as an incubator for the development of ideas about improving the quality oflife in local communities and become a model for such an enterprise. This project is the first step in a long journey. In the short term, we will hire a director, set up the office at the University of KY, and create a series of discrete educational and journalistic efforts to improve rural journalism. We will establish the IRJCI as a reliable resource for students, professors, community leaders,and working journalists attempting to understand the complexities of the rural experience. During the first year, the Institute will be led by an interim director, while a national search is conducted for a permanent director, who would be appointed to a tenured faculty line. In the long term, the Institute will become a national resource, educating both urban and rural journalists about rural needs and policy issues. There will be a board of influential leaders, including some journalists, and an advisory committee representing universities (7 in 5 states at present) and independent sector entities that collaborate with the Institute. The board will provide policy guidance, raise money, and listen to advice from the committee. This is truly a multi-institutional and multidisciplinary project that counts on the collaboration and support of academic institutions, including the University of Kentucky, Appalachian State University, and the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, West Virginia University, Eastern Kentucky University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Washington and Lee University. The IRJCI will convene meetings on improving rural journalism; commission articles from students and working journalists on critical rural issues (such as sprawl, tax inequities, preventive health, transition in agriculture, and the interface between urban and rural life in edge communities); research models for communities, the media and universities to work together to disseminate information about policy concerns; work with partners to create a Web log on rural issues, and, finally, to explore the possibility of acquiring a rural newspaper - to be used as a nonprofit educational lab for advanced students. There will be an annual report from the Director and Board, summarizing the year's work and presenting a brief research commentary on at least one rural issue. 3. Project Activities and Timetable: Provide a list of specific project activities and a timetable for their implementation. (Use no more than 22 lines.) During the first year, beginning April I, 2004, the project will recruit and hire an Interim Director and begin the activities, as outlined on the attached page. These activities will include establishing the Board of Directors, developing a strategic fundraising plan, creating a web log, conducting a pilot survey of community newspapers in Central Appalachia, monitoring community journalism programs at partner institutions, planning for and convening a day-long seminar for reporters and editors of community newspapers (inaugural seminar will be held at UK- will possibly rotate location to partner institutions), and convening a conference call meeting of the Board of Directors. Second year activities, as described on the attached page, will include convening a biannual meeting of the Board of Directors, enhancing the web log, teaching a community journalism course, commissioning pilot research and articles by students and working journalists, ongoing fundraising and development, investigating the pros and cons of raising funds to purchase a community newspaper, recruiting a committee of partner institution representatives to plan and implement a student conference, identifying summer internships for students and other activities generated by the Board of Directors. 4. Anticipated Outcomes: (a) Direct results: Based on the project activities you described above, what is the proposed project expected to accomplish? Please focus on the results you expect to come directly from the project activities. (Use no more than 10 lines.) Journalism educators within our orbit will be challenged to help the media make broader use of University resources. The Institute will have prodded rural newspapers and stations to seek information from the universities packaged to be accessible as background on socioeconomic changes. Students will be challenged to discover and report on the roots of success and failure in rural communities. Some students will refocus careers in a more yeasty kind of community journalism. The dialogue among policy makers will spice up and add new issues to public discourse, not the least of which will be the advantages of taking a regional approach to solve local problems. As the Institute promotes the collaboration of a more proactive press and a more engaged academy, it will seek support for an expanded agenda. (b) Broader impact: Please describe how those results will affect the community, the organization, or the Populations you hope to reach. In doing so, expand your focus and describe the overall effect of your project and its ultimate accomplishments. (Use no more than 10 lines.) Through the collaborative process, the attention given to the news media as a vital and threatened component of civic infrastructure will create a positive dynamic. Under scrutiny, and with anxiety over public perspectives of their performance, small chains may reduce pressures for profits and encourage editors to seek help through the Institute. Press associations will use the Institute as a training resource at seminars and annual meetings. The Institute's ability to promote itself and its mission will raise public interest in a more relevant press, perhaps stimulating competition to reach the rural public by Internet, satellite or cable. The Institute model for a more sophisticated understanding of local issues will be copied in other regions and will capture attention of the metros, bridging the urban divide. A re-energized press will help transform rural areas. 20f4 5. Assessment: How will you evaluate your project? Explain whether your evaluation will focus on how effectively you implement the activities and/or how the activities produce the expected outcome. In your description, please indicate who will conduct the evaluation, i.e., your organization's staff, partners in the project, consultants or others. (Use no more than 18 lines.) The evaluation for the first year's performance will be done in increments - every three months for nine months - by a joint committee of the Board of Directors, the Advisory Board, and two University of KY faculty members - one from the School of Journalism and Telecommunications and one from another discipline. Reportin ~ for this evaluation will come from the Director and the two co-PIs for the project. At the end of the 11 month, the committee will prepare a report for the year to be submitted to the Board, the Director of the School of Journalism and Telecommunications and the Dean of the College of Communications and Information Studies who will sign off on a report to be provided to the Knight Foundation at the end of the 13th month. Revisions to this plan for assessment can be made with the joint agreement of the Chair of the Board of Directors, the Director of the UK Journalism School and the Chair of the Advisory Committee. The evaluation will focus on implementation of activities to achieve anticipated outcomes in pursuit of the mission. A copy of the evaluation will be provided to the President and Provost of the University of Kentucky who personally approved startup assistance for the IRJCI initiative. 6. Relationship with Mission and Goals: How does the proposed project fit within the mission, program history, and current goals of your organization? (Use no more than 11 lines.) As a land grant university and the flagship university, UK's primary missions are teaching, research and service, in that order. The Institute will be housed in the School of Journalism and Telecommunications, and the Director of the Institute will report to the Director of the School and the Board of Directors. Hiring of successive directors for the Institute will be determined by University protocol and in consultation with the Board. The Director will serve as a tenured faculty member and would typically teach one course per semester, excluding summer, in the School and will work closely with the appropriate individuals at the partner institutions. This arrangement will foster unique interdisciplinary and multi-institutional connections that fit nicely with the service function of the university. The University of Kentucky has a legislatively mandated goal of becoming a Top 20 Public Research Institution by 2020. This Institute could play an important role in reaching that goal by demonstrating the university's commitment to serving both urban and rural America and to the creation of cutting-edge research. 7. Qualifications: Why is your organization particularly qualified to address the identified need? How does this project differ from, complement, relate to, or result from work being done by other organizations? (Use no more than 11 lines.) There are other programs that support community journalism, such as the Knight Chair in Community Journalism at the University of Kansas, the Carolina Community Media Project at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and the Center for Community Journalism at the State University of New York-Oswego. However, none of these has the intended scope of extension service of the IRJCI. The collaborative process based at UK is well underway and unduplicated anywhere. The focus on rural media coverage of policy and on providing assistance from regional colleges and universities is unique. No other program is directed so strongly toward becoming a national model to address a perceived decline in how socioeconomic challenges are investigated and reported in the rural press. 8. Collaboration: How has your organization collaborated with other organizations or individuals in developing this project, and how will they participate in its implementation? Please identify project partners and explain the respective role of each participant in both the development and implementation of the project. Attach letters indicating support or intent to participate. (Use no more than 7 lines.) The IRJCI Steering Committee that originated the concept of the Institute is comprised of a distinguished group of journalists, community leaders and academicians. (See attached list) The Steering Committee has also identified a group of partner institutions that are committed to furthering the mission of the Institute. (See attached list) Over the past two years, we have been working closely with the University's Wendell Ford Research Center and Public Policy Archives, Extension Service, Center for Rural Health/Hazard plus the University Press ofKY, the Center for Rural Strategies/Whitesburg, KY, Marshall University/WV A, the U VA Miller Center for Public Policy, VA Tech, and the Appalachian College Association/Berea,KY. 9 Other Support: Indicate other specific sources and amounts of support for the proposed project. Please specify the name of each source to which you have submitted a formal request, the amount requested, and whether funding is pending or committed. (Use no more than 7 lines.) Support from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi Foundation ($25,000) and the Appalachian Regional Commission ($30,000) provided seed money for the IRJCI initiative. The University of Kentucky (UK) has provided in-kind support (graduate student, faculty and facilities). A verbal commitment has been made by the Ford Foundation for a one-year grant of$50,000. A formal application is pending. The Knight Foundation request will help provide funding for the Director's position and program support for the first two years. UK will provide professional fundraising staff to assist the Director in developing a strategic plan for fundraising including plans for an endowment. 10. Sustainability: How will you sustain the project after Knight Foundation funding has ended? Be specific about funding sources. (Use no more than 11 lines.) In order to ensure the future of the IRJCI, we would request additional support from the Knight Foundation during Year I in the form of an endowment challenge. A $500,000 challenge grant would provide the opportunity to leverage and generate an additional $500,000 in private funds for a total of $1 million. The $1 million (Knight and private funds) will be then be matched by the State's Research Challenge Trust Fund (RCTF) (one for one match) to establish a $2 million endowment. The interest income from the endowment will provide ongoing support for the Institute in perpetuity and would become available in Year III. Sustaining the Institute's future will be a major responsibility of the Director with the assistance of the IRJCI Board of Directors and the UK's Development Office. A development professional will be assigned to work with the Director to create and implement a fundraising plan for an endowment campaign and to identify on-going grant opportunities for program support. See the attachment for additional information about the RCTF matching funds provided by the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Signature of CEO endorsing project (CEO of 501(c)(3) organization; president or chancellor of university) 1 hereby endorse this project as our organization's top priority"forJ-nijj Foy'~dation r ndin ior the next 12 months.
Effective start/end date7/7/046/30/08


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.