Radically rural logoKEENE – The Keene (N.H.) Sentinel, in partnership with a local entrepreneurship center, will host a summit focused on sustainable community news coverage for small newspapers on September 27-28 at the Alumni Center on the campus of Keene State College.

The conference is part of Radically Rural, a two-day conference with program tracks on community journalism, business innovation, downtowns, arts and culture and working lands. The Sentinel’s partner is the Hannah Grimes Center for Entrepreneurship.

The community journalism track aims to help editors and reporters build more trust with readers, alert citizens to the infiltration of misinformation in social media feeds and other sources and suggest different news models that readers will pay for and support.

Terrence Williams, president of The Keene Sentinel, said he hopes the sessions will attract an audience of editors and reporters from small dailies and weeklies trying to build stronger connections with readers and wanting to share ideas.

“We’re bringing in experts from around the country with a goal of framing the problem, identifying some best practices and engaging in a thorough conversation on how journalism can be strengthened at small news organizations,” Williams said.

Radically Rural is a conference assembling top thinkers on five areas that small cities and towns need help addressing, community news being one of them, Williams added.

Highlighting the conference are two journalism sessions on September 27:

Keeping News Real in Rural America

President Donald Trump’s labeling of certain news as fake and journalists as the enemy of the people has raised doubts about the veracity and accuracy of news reporting. This has created a national narrative. How is journalism perceived in small town America? Are levels of trust higher or lower? What can local journalists and community leaders do to maintain integrity and build trust in local journalism?

Speakers: Kathy Kiely, Lee Hills Chair in Free-Press Studies at the Missouri School of Journalism, University of Missouri; Kathrine Aydelott, PhD, The University Library, University of New Hampshire

Panel discussion: Ben Boyington, Global Critical Media Literacy Project; Kristen Nevious, director, Marlin Fitzwater Center, Franklin Pierce University; Paul Miller, executive editor, The Keene Sentinel

Moderator, James Rousmaniere, retired president and editor, The Keene Sentinel

Energizing and Growing Rural Journalism

Small town newspapers, challenged by evaporating advertising revenues, mergers and declining circulation, struggle to sustain themselves. What can be done to keep local journalism strong, relevant, necessary and avoid news deserts?

Speakers: Al Cross, director, Institute for Rural Journalism, University of Kentucky; Kevin Slimp, director, University of Tennessee Newspaper Institute, CEO, Newspaper Academy and publisher, Market Square Books

Panel discussion: Mark Guerringue, publisher The Daily Sun, Conway, N.H.; Keith Gentili, editor and publisher, The New Boston Beacon (N.H.); Anne Galloway, founder and editor, VTDigger Moderator, Phil Kincade, executive director, New Hampshire Press Association

On the second day, Sept. 28, Williams is inviting members of the Greater Keene Community to take part in an interactive discussion on assembling that day’s newspaper.

Building Today’s Newspaper – You be the Editor!

It is not well known nor publicized that newspaper audiences are larger today than ever due to myriad platforms on which news is published – print, websites, online newsletters, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, video and more. This session puts those tools into the hands of interested citizens asking, “What would you do as an editor for a day? What would your coverage and story assignments be? What would you publish in print, online and in social media? What would your front page look like?” The session will follow with a press run so attendees can compare their thoughts to those of Sentinel editors and reporters.

For more information on signing up, the cost of the events, key speakers and location information, go to www.radicallyrural.org or contact Williams at 603-283-0703 or twilliams@keenesentinel.com.