Watch for chance to localize stories

By Al Cross

cross-alAt The Rural Blog we watch events and issues, but also trends and ideas in rural America – especially those that offer opportunities for localizing stories. We’ve had several examples lately.

The Wall Street Journal reported on a trend you also may have noticed, but didn’t see as a story: a rural boom in electronic commerce, which makes it easier for your readers to buy goods that may not be available locally. The downside is freight charges, which are often higher for more remote areas, and the damage that e-commerce does to local retailers. We excerpted the story at http://bit.ly/2ci7X15.

Stateline, the wonderful news service of The Pew Charitable Trusts, had an interesting story about the difficulties farmers and independent repair shops face because manufacturers aren’t required to make parts and repair information available to customers and independent repair people. I’ll bet you can find some such people among your own readers. Read the story at http://bit.ly/2d46Tzr. Continue reading “Watch for chance to localize stories”

Deer Creek Pilot: We can’t endorse

We are not sure that newspaper endorsements mean what they once did, but if a weekly newspaper is going to make an endorsement in a race as momentous  as that for president, with election day on Tuesday, now is the time and this is the place for that paper to do so.

And yet, in this year, in this presidential election, we at this weekly newspaper find that we cannot. We simply cannot, in good faith, in clear conscience, recommend to our readers any one of the field of candidates—perhaps the weakest in the history of the republic—for the highest office in the land and the leader of the free world.

While there are other minor party candidates on the ballot, the unsettling fact is that either Democrat Hillary Clinton or Republican Donald Trump is going to be elected the next President of the United States. One of them may be capable, but neither of them is worthy.

Continue reading “Deer Creek Pilot: We can’t endorse”

Why do we endorse candidates?

By Tim Kalich

timkalichGREENWOOD – USA Today broke a tradition that goes back to its founding 34 years ago.

It made for the first time an endorsement in the presidential race.

The national newspaper says that every four years its editorial board has revisited its no-endorsement policy on presidential races, the only contest it would consider weighing in on. Until now, it has come to the conclusion that it should keep its opinions to itself. It says it hasn’t wanted to risk the charge of political bias, voters have no shortage of information on presidential candidates to make up their own minds, and its ideologically diverse board could rarely agree on an endorsement anyway.

But this year, the fear of a Donald Trump presidency has caused the newspaper to offer an endorsement — although technically a non-endorsement might be a more apt description.

Continue reading “Why do we endorse candidates?”

Nixon and The Tylertown Times

By Charles Dunagin

charles-dunaginThe New York Times, whose slogan is “all the news that’s fit to print,” finds itself in the news recently for publishing some of Donald Trump’s tax documents.

Disclosed were the first page of Trump’s 1995 New York state resident income tax return, the first page of his New Jersey non-resident tax return and the first page of his Connecticut non-resident tax return. They show a $916 million loss that might have allowed Trump to legally avoid paying any income taxes for up to 18 years.

In addition to the political ramifications of the report, there’s a debate over whether the newspaper violated the law in publishing the documents. That will be probed from all sides until something else in this bizarre presidential election captures the headlines and the attention of the talking heads on the cable news networks.

For me, whenever the New York Times is in the news, I’m reminded of my friend of decades ago, Paul Pittman.

Continue reading “Nixon and The Tylertown Times”

The New York Times makes good on promise to publish Trump’s tax return

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Donald J. Trump (AP via The Washington Post)

From The Washington Post:

Dean Baquet wasn’t bluffing.

The New York Times executive editor said during a visit to Harvard in September that he would risk jail to publish Donald Trump’s tax returns. He made good on his word Saturday night when the Times published Trump tax documents from 1995, which show the Republican presidential nominee claimed losses of $916 million that year — enough to avoid paying federal income taxes for as many as 18 years afterward.

Meanwhile, Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson has now racked up more newspaper editorials than Trump has – several from newspapers that have long supported the conservative candidate in the race.

Conservative newspaper after conservative newspaper broke tradition in September by endorsing Clinton — or, perhaps more appropriately, by telling their readers why they shouldn’t vote for Trump…

So far, Trump has racked up zero major newspaper endorsements. That’s six fewer than Gary Johnson, who couldn’t name any foreign leader he admires in an interview last week and about whom CNN opined “Why is Gary Johnson still in the race?

Trump’s boosters took to the Sunday morning talk shows to promote the candidate’s avoidance of paying taxes as a genius move by a man well-versed in the byzantine tax code, reports Politico.

Local newspaper is the ‘Way to Know’ your community

By Layne Bruce

Bruce, LayneSeveral years ago cyberspace was frenzied over many popular websites going dark for 24 hours to protest a federal bill meant to crack down on video piracy.

The Stop Online Piracy Act – or SOPA – was a controversial and perhaps misguided effort championed by the Motion Picture Association of America to end illegal online sharing of copyrighted material, primarily movies and music.

To protest SOPA and its potential threats to the First Amendment, Wikipedia, Google, Reddit and – heaven forbid – I Can Haz Cheezburger, among many others, all shut down for a 24-hour period to show the web-surfing world what it would be like without its daily fix of photos of cats riding in baby strollers.

Continue reading “Local newspaper is the ‘Way to Know’ your community”

Fact checking resources for newspapers of any size

By AL CROSS
Institute for Rural Journalism
University of Kentucky

Cross_AlAt many community newspapers, treatment of the presidential election may be limited to online polls of your readers’ opinions, or their letters. But this is a race for president like no other, where facts and issues have taken a far back seat to entertainment, personality and character assassination, and it’s unlikely to get better now that we have the two most unpopular nominees in the history of polling.

Why should smaller newspapers devote more space to the race? If dailies rely on the Associated Press, the coverage won’t be localized. If weeklies just stick to local news, they will ignore a major topic of discussion among their readers, many of whom don’t read a daily. Covering the race can help you build and maintain a brand as the most authoritative local source of news and information.

As the primary campaigns ended, many journalists acknowledged that they had done a poor job of holding the nominees and other candidates accountable for their statements, and vowed to do better. But at last month’s conventions, timely fact-checking was rare. All of us in American journalism need to share the load.

Continue reading “Fact checking resources for newspapers of any size”