CELM Co-Sponsors Symposium Honoring Rural Newspaper

The Center for Ethical Leadership in Media is proud to serve as co-sponsor and host of the Feb. 29 symposium honoring rural journalism leadership. The other sponsors of the event, scheduled at the Texas Union on the University of Texas at Austin campus, are the University of Kentucky’s Rural Journalism Institute and Community Issues and the Texas Center for Community Journalism, based at Tarleton State University in Texas.

Craig Garnett, the publisher-editor of the twice-weekly Uvalde (Texas) Leader-News publisher/editor, will be presented with the national Tom and Pat Gish Award for courage, integrity and tenacity in rural journalism. 

Benjy Hamm, director of UK’s rural and community institute, will present the 2023 Gish award to Garnett during the event’s luncheon. Hamm will also moderate a morning panel featuring Garnett and Laurie Ezzell Brown, who won the Gish award in 2007 while running The Canadian Record in the Texas Panhandle.

Austin Lewter, director of the Texas Center for Community Journalism and a newspaper owner, will moderate an afternoon panel of publishers discussing successful innovation in rural journalism.

The Gish Award is traditionally handed out at the University of Kentucky, which oversees the honor. But Garnett, still dealing with the aftermath of the 2022 shooting,  had a different idea even if it meant delaying the award presentation by a few months. 

“When Craig Garnett said he would like to receive the Gish Award in Texas, we realized that would be a wonderful opportunity to share the sort of work and dedication that is often needed to do good journalism in rural areas,” Al Cross, director emeritus of the Institute for Rural Journalism, told the Texas Press Messenger. “[CELM co-director] Kathleen McElroy was very gracious to help us do that and we are very glad to work with the Texas Center for Community Journalism to help rural journalists in Texas.”

Lewter added: “Community Journalism is alive and well in Texas, and we are thrilled to help celebrate that. This event is of national significance and we expect a wonderful conversation among our panelists.”

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