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Kentuckians win top journalism awards

Bill Bishop, Julie Ardery and Landon Wills to be honored

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 24, 2014) — A couple who created a new sense of community in rural America with an online news site, and a crusading weekly editor who set an example that drew national attention, are the winners of this year’s top awards from the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, based at the University of Kentucky College of Communication and Information.

Julie Ardery and Bill Bishop

The awards are the Al Smith Award for public service in community journalism by a Kentuckian, which is co-sponsored by the Bluegrass Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, and the Tom and Pat Gish Award for the courage, tenacity and integrity that are so often needed to do good rural journalism.

The Smith Award goes to Bill Bishop and Julie Ardery, husband and wife of La Grange, Texas, and natives of Louisville.  For several years recently they were co-editors of the Daily Yonder, the online news site of the Center for Rural Strategies, which Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues Director Al Cross says has “created a much greater sense of community among rural people in a diverse, changing rural America.”

The Gish Award goes posthumously to Landon Wills, who was publisher of the McLean County News in Calhoun from 1946 to 1972, and editor for almost all that time. He was the subject of a national television documentary in 1963 after advocating for civil rights and community development, and against religious prejudice and political mendacity.

Giving the awards to three Kentucky natives is “especially fitting” in a year when the institute is celebrating its 10th anniversary and the university is celebrating 100 years of journalism at UK, said Beth Barnes, director of the UK school of journalism and telecommunications. Also this year, the school’s Scripps Howard First Amendment Center is celebrating its 25th anniversary.

The awards will be presented at an Anniversary and Awards Dinner at the Marriott Griffin Gate Resort in Lexington Thursday, Nov. 13. Invitations for the event will be mailed soon. For more information call 859-257-3744.