Stories and Reports

Colorado River
In Crisis

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The Western
Energy Boom

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Health Care in
the Rural West

Historical Background

The Country Life Commission

Media

Join the Radio Conversation: Community Newspapers and the Rural West


Data visualization of U.S. weekly newspapers in 2010, in white. View interactive map »

Bill Lane Center creative director and Rural West Initiative contributor Geoff McGhee will be talking about our recent report on community journalism on KUER Public Radio's live program RadioWest on Monday morning, August 8, at 10am Pacific Time. Geoff will be talking his report on the relatively good health of small-town and rural newspapers – compared to the crisis that big-market papers are enduring – and the Center's data visualization showing the growth of newspapers across the United States since 1690.

Appearing with Geoff will be the broadcast journalist and educator Judy Muller, a contributing editor at the Rural West Initiative, and author of the well-received book Emus Loose in Egnar, Big Stories from Small Towns. McGhee and Muller will talk about the state of small-town and rural newspapers and take listener questions about community journalism in the West. 

The program will be broadcast live on Monday, August 8, at 10am Pacific Time (11am Mountain Time) on KUER FM 90.1 in Salt Lake City and the SiriusXM Public Radio channel on satellite radio. Callers can join the conversation by calling (801) 585-WEST or emailing radiowest@kuer.org. The archived broadcast will be available for playback on KUER's website and as a podcast on iTunes

Last modified Fri, 5 Aug, 2011 at 12:21

Rural Broadband Policy: Some New Recommendations

Areas with access to broadband Internet service, from the FCC's National Broadband Map

By John McChesney

We have had a tremendous, positive response to Geoff McGhee’s and Krissy Clark’s work on rural newspapers. On a related topic to rural media access, the Center for Media Justice and the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Initiative have just published a set of recommendations regarding rural broadband policy, drawn from a session at the National Rural Assembly in St Paul, MN on June 28th.

Some of their recommendations:

  • Define broadband as community infrastructure
  • Recognize broadband service as a public utility
  • Reform the Universal Service Fund
  • Support public ownership and community broadband networks

You can read the entire document at http://goo.gl/Boik9.

Last modified Thu, 21 Jul, 2011 at 12:54

Report: Community Journalism in the United States


Data visualization of U.S. weekly newspapers in 2010, in white. View interactive map »

State of the Industry

Rural Newspapers Doing Better Than Their City Counterparts


In an era of precipitous decline for major metropolitan newspapers, rural journalism is surviving, even thriving, in the rural West and across the United States.  

READ THE STORY »

 

Historical Context

Did the West Make Newspapers, or Did Newspapers Make the West?


The history of newspapers in the rural West is one of crisis and triumph in alternation. Failure, and bouncing back from it, has been a tradition. And at a time when there is so much talk about the future of newspapers, this past is worth considering.

READ THE ESSAY »

 

Data Visualization

Mapping Journalism's Voyage West

With American newspapers under stress from changing economics, technology and consumer behavior, it's easy to forget how ubiquitous and important they are in society. For this data visualization, we have taken the directory of US newspaper titles compiled by the Library of Congress' Chronicling America project – nearly 140,000 publications in all – and plotted them over time and space. This visualization is also viewable as a series of video animations.

SEE THE VISUALIZATION » | WATCH THE VIDEO ANIMATIONS »

 

Last modified Tue, 30 Oct, 2012 at 9:57

Did the West Make Newspapers, or Did Newspapers Make the West?

By Krissy Clark and Geoff McGhee

“Our papers, our little country papers, seem drab and miserably provincial to strangers; yet we who read them read in their lines the sweet, intimate story of life."
– William Allen White, Editor of the Emporia Gazette, Emporia, Kansas in 19161

When William Allen White touchingly wrote about “our little country papers,” in the nineteen-teens, they were at their all-time peak, with over 17,000 weeklies in circulation, according to the Ayer’s American Newspaper Directory of 1915.2 They had arrived at this summit after a century or more of struggle by pioneers hauling printing presses to an ever-farther frontier.

The history of newspapers in the rural West is a history of crisis and triumph in alternation. Failure, and bouncing back from it, have been a tradition.3 And at a time when there is so much talk about the future of newspapers, this past is worth considering. Ironically, this legacy of turbulence finds rural newspapers relatively unscathed by the calamities currently facing many big city papers. Put another way, there is no crisis in rural Western newspapers; the crisis has always been there. And the papers are stronger for it.

Last modified Tue, 26 Jun, 2012 at 15:04

Rural Newspapers Doing Better Than Their City Counterparts

Photo: John McChesney   

By Geoff McGhee

Walk in to a town council meeting in Pinedale, Wyoming, and you're likely to find as many as three local reporters scribbling notes and asking questions. That news in a town of 2,030 residents is covered by two newspapers and a website is partly explained by the abundance of mineral wealth in surrounding Sublette County, which produced $3.6 billion in natural gas last year. Add to that the urgent concern about breaching a local dam threatened by record snowmelt coming from the Wind River Range, and you've got a recipe for a small-town media frenzy.

This scene is also illustrative of how rural journalism is surviving, even thriving, in the rural West and across the United States, in an era of precipitous decline for major metropolitan newspapers.

Last modified Thu, 14 Jul, 2011 at 11:00