Awards for 2020 and 2021 to be presented
NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd will keynote the Al Smith Awards Dinner, held annually to honor outstanding rural journalism, at the Marriott Griffin Gate Resort in Lexington, Thursday, Oct. 28.
The dinner was not held last year due to the pandemic, so this year’s will honor two years’ worth of winners – of the Tom and Pat Gish Award for courage, tenacity and integrity in rural journalism, presented by the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues; and the Al Smith Award for public service through community journalism, presented by the Institute and the Bluegrass Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.
To make reservations for the dinner, go to
The Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues and the Bluegrass Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists established the Al Smith Award for public service through community journalism in Kentucky. The first award went to its namesake, who owned weekly newspapers in Kentucky and Tennessee and was founding host of KET’s “Comment on Kentucky,” federal co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission, and main co-founder of the Institute. He set a high standard for public service through community journalism at his newspapers. He died March 19, 2021. He was the author of two books, Wordsmith and Kentucky Cured.
The Institute established the Tom and Pat Gish Award for rural journalists who demonstrate the courage, tenacity and integrity often needed to render public service in rural journalism. It is named for the couple who published The Mountain Eagle in Whitesburg, KY, for more than 50 years and were know for their tell-it-like-it-is style of journalism in the face of powerful opposing interests.
This year’s dinner features the presentation of the Al Smith Award to:
- Becky Barnes, The Cynthiana Democrat (2020)
- WKMS-FM, Murray State University (2021)
and the Tom and Pat Gish Award to:
- Tim Crews, Willows, Calif. (2020, posthumous)
- Thompson-High Family, Whiteville, N.C. (2021)
Keynote address by Chuck Todd, political director, NBC News
Cash-bar Reception 6 p.m. – Outdoors
Dinner 7 p.m. – MASKS REQUIRED
Do not make a reservation or attend if you are unvaccinated.