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Sun - 17.12.2017

Last local news bureau closes in Eastern Kentucky

Last local news bureau closes in Eastern Kentucky

The last rural news bureau in Eastern Kentucky is closing, according to Daily Yonder.

Kentucky's rural bureaus were historically responsible for bringing urban attention to injustices in small communities. The article notes that the effort to end strip coal mining was borne out of the coverage by reporters at Eastern Kentucky bureaus.

The Daily Yonder elaborates on the importance of local bureaus as a tool to link rural areas to larger cities and argues that local coverage enforced a Kentucky state identity in spite of social inequalities. In Eastern Kentucky, local news once ensured that national policies could address small town issues. In the current absence of a local print news source, rural communities face isolation on a state and national level.

One possible solution to this issue lies online.

Criticized for the threat it poses to local media, AOL's hyper-local news site Patch is one example of a response to the rapidly changing news industry. Although it has not expanded into Kentucky, Patch's niche news distribution is one alternative to traditional print press.

In an article in the American Journalism Review, Barb Palser describes the company's business model as based on locally hired reporters rather than aggregated content. Each local site is run by a professional journalist who is responsible for reporting and editing news stories.

In spite of Patch's local focus, however, a single journalist cannot be expected to replace an entire paper. Local papers usually employ far more journalists than a website like Patch, allowing them to address community interests and allot more resources to thoroughly cover local issues.

In a community where the last vestiges of local press competition are dying, Patch's original coverage and corporate ownership could allow for local press to survive, but it would not be an adequate replacement for local press bureaus. The bureaus represented a time when Kentucky newspapers were nationally renowned for their investigative journalism and dedication to bringing attention to local issues. Online-only media has not yet achieved the level of influence on communities-at-large to fill the gap local press has left behind: will other alternatives arise?

Sources: Daily Yonder, AJR



Florence Pichon


2011-05-30 18:41

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