A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Rural Blog: Students in rural communities facing backlash when speaking out in favor of gun control

Recent school shootings have inspired a wave of gun-control activism, some of it from students, and a few of those students from rural areas. “In a more liberal city like Parkland, Fla., or at a rally in Washington, these students might have been celebrated as young leaders,” Jack Healy reports for The New York Times. “But in rural, conservative parts of the country where farm fields...

Rural Blog: New report shows Ky. lost a half million acres of farmland to homebuilding in last 20 years

(Click for full report) A new report from the American Farmland Trust, the nation’s leading farmland-preservation group, says that America has been losing twice as much farmland as the group thought, and the leading cause of it is low-density residential development, especially in Kentucky, Al Cross reports for the Midway Messenger. Cross is the director of the Institute for Rural Journalism...

Congress boosts black lung treatment funding in 15 coal-producing states by $10 million

“Rural medical clinics that are struggling to respond to an epidemic of a fatal lung disease plaguing coal miners received a 40 percent boost in federal funding with the passage of the omnibus spending bill last week,” reports NPR’s Howard Berkes, who can claim some credit for the increase. Twenty-eight black lung clinics in 15 coal states will get a $10 million bump in funding, up...

Rural Blog: Appalachia at high risk of HIV, hep C, but many factors hamper testing, monitoring, treatment

Bloodborne diseases like HIV and hepatitis C are an increasing threat to public health in Appalachia, but the stigma associated with such diseases may be hindering monitoring, testing and treatment, ultimately increasing the risk of outbreaks. A big part of the risk comes from sharing needles while shooting opioid drugs such as heroin. In 2016 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that...

Rural Blog: New book explores media’s failure to recognize rural voter impact on 2016 election

A new book published by Routledge — The Trump Presidency, Journalism and Democracy — includes a chapter about Donald Trump, rural America, its issues and the national news media’s failure to recognize the power Trump drew from rural voters. Written by Al Cross, director of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, publisher of The Rural Blog, the chapter digs deep into the...

Constance Alexander: Local papers, increasingly rare crucibles of truth, add value to community news

For as long as I could remember, Daddy worked for a newspaper. His first job was as a newsboy on the streets of St. John, in New Brunswick, Canada. He remembered hawking the daily headlines on busy city streets in all kinds of weather. In winter, he swore the snow was so deep, he had to leave home via an upstairs window and snowshoe downtown to get his papers. Daddy was still an adolescent when his...

Rural Blog: Analysts think Ky.’s newly approved Medicaid work requirement poses little political risk

“On Jan. 12, Kentucky became the first state to get federal permission to suspend Medicaid coverage for “‘able-bodied’ adults who don’t complete 80 hours per month of community engagement activities,” like employment, education, job-skills training and community service,” Tony Pugh reports for McClatchy’s DC bureau. And though Kentucky is one of the poorest...

Rural Blog: Goats — ‘unsung heroes on the highway’ — are used by some states to maintain roadways

Goats can do more than provide milk and meat: their dedication to chomping grass and weeds, and their nimble feet, have earned them a spot cropping along road rights-of-way in at least seven states. It makes sense, Frederick Kunkle reports for The Washington Post. “Goats take pleasure and sustenance from their work in ways that people don’t. Goats don’t talk back, they don’t demand...

Kentucky hospitals struggling to find enough nurses; colleges working toward finding solutions

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News While studies show Kentucky will have a surplus of registered nurses in the next decade, right now many of the state’s hospitals are struggling to hire enough nurses to care for patients. “I am hoping this is cyclical,” said Susan Ellis, the vice president of Patient Care Services at Highlands Regional Medical Center in Prestonsburg. “But...

Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky awarded over $1 million in grants to nonprofits in 2016

The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky awarded grants in 2016 totaling a little more than $1 million to nonprofit organizations and community health coalitions working to improve Kentucky’s health. That brought the foundation’s total investments to nearly $26.7 million since it was created in 2001 to help improve the state’s health and address the unmet health-care needs of Kentuckians,...

Federal officials to provide funds to help Central Appalachian counties reeling from loss of coal jobs

By Al Cross Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues Federal officials trying to help Central Appalachian counties reeling from losses of coal jobs say they will use a pot of new money “to demonstrate that Appalachia really is the next great investment opportunity in America.” That’s how Earl Gohl, federal co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission, described it late...

Kids Count: Report on child well-being, health says state leads in smoking pregnant mothers

The Kids Count report on children’s well-being assessed Kentucky county by county. The graphic above shows that counties such as Boone, Calloway, Meade, Oldham, Spencer, Washington and Woodford are the top seven of the 30 highest-ranking counties. The bottom six are: Owsley, Knox, Elliot, Martin, Fulton and Clay. (Photo provided)   By Molly Burchett Special to KyForward   The annual...

Author of ‘Living with Guns’ to speak on gun control, gun rights issues in free lecture at UK

Why does America have a constitutional right to keep and bear arms? Exactly what does that mean? Can we reconcile the individual right to own and use guns with the right of Americans to live in safety from gun violence? Are 30,000 deaths by gunfire every year the necessary price of the Second Amendment? Is keeping guns out of the hands of as many Americans as possible really the best way to keep...