Little is now left of the once great tradition of Appalachian journalism. Today there is not a single bureau of any major regional newspaper, much less any national print presence in the entire region. The once great newspapers which played an enormous role in identifying and bringing to the attention of the nation the many problems and injustices in the region such as the Lexington Herald, the Louisville Courier Journal and the Charleston Gazette Gazette are shells of their former selves, with drastically reduced staff and resources. Nor does other media, whether television based, web based or audio come even close to an adequate coverage of the distraught region.
And this has come at a time when the region faces the greatest crisis in its long and tortured history, facing the death of the industry on which it as relied for almost 150 years- coal. Due in significant part to the catastrophic decline of its single resource economy, the region faces massive unemployment, an opioid epidemic, some of the worst health problems in the nation (cancer, diabetes, obesity), large scale outmigration of the educated, a failed educational system, and outside ownership of much of its land and natural resources. The result is an enormous dependence on federal entitlement programs simply to survive.
The Galloway Family Foundation decides to a major journalism project in Appalachia to bring significantly greater journalism resources to Appalachia to identify and report on the problems Appalachia now faces. GFF proposes to establish and fund a new news Bureau to be located in central Appalachia. The journalists would be under the control of and report to existing the West Virginia Broadcasting, the Charleston Gazette and the Lexington Herald.
The new Bureau would produce content that would be widely distributed to other regional and national news outlets in print, video and web based reporting. (discussed below). This is clearly a very ambitious undertaking for GFF and numerous issues that will need to be addressed and resolved in order to ensure a successful project. However, the need is great and the support from our partners are strong. We believe the Appalachia Journalism Project will serve as a founding stone in the region to help journalism survive and thrive, and eventually bring in the nationwide efforts to the problem solving formula.