A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

2013 Review: What is news? Not just fires, crimes – but varied details of community life

Don’t want to wax too philosophically about “what is news?” – because we’d probably all define that differently, boiling it down to “we know it when we see it,” which translates to “that’s news to me.” We understand the tendency to classify news as “good” or “bad” and – sometimes – the tendency to blame the messenger for the latter. Perhaps – waxing philosophically anyway – that is more a media matter related to balanced content and emphasis, rather than the totality of content.

At KyForward, we do tend to think of “important” news in a different and more comprehensive way and that, generally, a focus on tragedy – house fires and crime – as “lead” stories day in and day out can create an unbalanced impression of what a community – and our own daily lives – are all about.

The story - rather, stories - drawing the most readers in 2013 played out at Transylvania University when a disconnect between the faculty and the institution's leadership.

The story – rather, stories – drawing the most readers in 2013 played out at Transylvania University when a disconnect between the faculty and the institution’s leadership led to the resignation of the school’s president.

Today’s “news,” for example, is not “news” at all – it’s the weather. Uncommonly cold weather that is “finally,” we’d say, warming up. It is the thing that is connecting all of us in the human experience – we’re cold, our pipes are freezing and/or bursting, our kids have been frozen out of school, our animals need special attention, our routines are disrupted, we’re unable to move about freely, our neighbors may be in need of help, we’re beyond annoyed – and we are not alone. This sort of thing focuses the mind. And it’s news with lots and lots of tentacles.

But our lives go on; we manage to fulfill our important responsibilities, our shared systems and those who are responsible for them – utilities and public safety and roads and communications – mostly work and chaos is generally avoided (except in homes with children suffering from cabin fever). Stories abound about the details of all this.

Eventually, we’ll return to “normal” – and stories will still abound. Because life will always be about the details.

In 2013 there were plenty of “details” around a wide range of stories and subjects. News matters. The sharing and understanding of it unites us as a community of individuals who can come together around the “details” we care about – social issues and purposes, public affairs, schools, clubs, health and wellness, arts and culture . . We get to choose.


A Kentucky kid – Skyler Hornback of Sonora – hitting it big on ‘Jeopardy’ also caught your attention.

As readers, you chose quite an interesting variety from the smorgasbord at KyForward.

The story – in its totality – drawing the most readers in 2013 played out at Transylvania University when a disconnect between the faculty and the institution’s leadership became public – ultimately resulting in a transition in leadership.

As readers, you were drawn to stories about people and the economy and health and good deeds. You followed the AcoUstiKats with a vengeance as they took the national stage.

You were fascinated by a an endangered gray wolf mistakenly killed by a Kentucky landowner, by a Kentucky kid on Jeopardy, by a columnist in Madisonville who got her pastor-husband in hot water with his church, by the record $100 million dollar judgment awarded a Northern Kentucky man, by misleading health insurance websites the attorney general ordered removed.

And you liked these stories too:

Because making history matters.

All-female crew makes Lexington Fire
Department history responding to call


At 6:31 one morning in September, Lexington Fire Department Captain Maria Roberts and firefighters Amanda Arbogast and Sarah McGill responded on Engine 1 from the East Third Street Station to a report of a brush fire on North Martin Luther King Boulevard. They extinguished the fire and an era in Lexington’s history at the same time.
 What makes this run unique is that this is the first known response by an all-female crew on a Lexington firetruck.
 Although women have been serving in the Lexington Fire Department since 1985 and currently serve in a variety of positions, women make up just 3.5 percent of professional firefighters nationwide. And only a handful of U.S. paid fire departments, with Lexington now among them, have made responses with an all-female crew, local officials say. Read more.

Tranformational change at UK matters.

New era in student housing begins at UK

with opening of $25.8 million Central Hall


A new era began today at the University of Kentucky – an era in which an unprecedented public-private partnership at the university is resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars of investment in high-tech living and learning spaces for students.
 Before scores of students, faculty, staff and visitors, Kentucky’s governor, Lexington’s mayor and UK’s president, among other dignitaries, the ribbon was cut to open the $25.8 million, 172,064 square-foot Central Hall I and II, UK’s newest residence halls. On Aug. 21, 601 students, faculty and staff associated with the UK Honors Program will take up residence there.
 “We gather today to commemorate the first of many new villages at UK created by a village of innovators, risk takers and dreamers who sought a new way to build,” said UK President Eli Capilouto. Read more.

Distinguishing our community matters.

Lexington’s Dr. Ardis Dee Hoven inaugurated
as president of American Medical Association


Ardis Dee Hoven, M.D., an internal medicine and infectious disease specialist in Lexington, has been sworn in as the 168th president of the American Medical Association, the nation’s largest physician organization. During her presidency Hoven will focus on the AMA’s three strategic areas: improving health outcomes, accelerating change in medical education and enhancing physician satisfaction and practice sustainability. Read more.

Progress of key institutions matters.

Come along for a preview tour

of new BCTC Newtown Pike building


For those who have been watching the progress of the first of the buildings on the new Bluegrass Community and Technical College campus on Newtown Pike, be prepared to be impressed. The new 90,000-square-foot Classroom and Student Services building, which will accommodate 1,000 students and 50 faculty, is nearing completion – and getting polished-and-shined for an open house next week.
 Students will take their first classes there in the fall. Read more.

Public affairs matter.

Treasurer Hollenbach leads real treasure
hunt for owners of unclaimed assets


Kentucky Treasurer Todd Hollenbach is on a treasure hunt of his own making – looking for owners of millions of dollars in unclaimed property held by the state.
 In Fayette County alone, more than $30 million is waiting to be found by its owners.
 Holding these assets is part of his job, but Hollenbach, Kentucky’s 37th treasurer, has created “Treasure Finders” to proactively find rightful owners of more than 20,000 unclaimed items stored in the bulging Treasury vault (including a Joe DiMaggio autographed baseball, silver buillion, jewelry and gold coins) and a big pot of cash.
 Read more.

Integrity in government matters.

After string of critical audits of school
district finances, greater transparency now sought


In the wake of several critical audits of district finances, Kentucky Auditor of Public Accounts Adam Edelen has recommended a series of actions to inject greater transparency in the evaluations of superintendents by local school boards. And in a Frankfort news conference Thursday, officials of the state Department of Education endorsed the proposals, saying they will be incorporated in already planned new requirements for superintendent reviews and board member training in that area.
 “What we’re dealing with here certainly is not descriptive statewide. Most superintendents are committed to doing the right thing,” Edelen said. “But when you conduct four investigations and find people charged with administering school districts were in varying degrees enriching themselves at the expense of children, clearly it calls for new safeguards in place to ensure that this kind of abuse can’t occur anywhere.” Read more.

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