Deadline is May 10 for community journalism public service award

The Bluegrass Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues seek nominations for the Al Smith Award, given annually for public service through community journalism over a lifetime by a native or resident of Kentucky, or someone who has spent a significant portion of his or her career in the state.

The award is named for its first recipient: Albert P. Smith Jr., who owned weekly newspapers in Kentucky and Tennessee, was founding host of KET’s “Comment on Kentucky” and was main co-founder of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, whose national advisory board he long chaired. He is now chairman emeritus and writing books: Wordsmith: My Life in Journalism, Kentucky Cured, and more to follow.

The Smith Award is based on news coverage and editorial leadership that serve needs of communities. Preference is given to journalists in smaller markets, to recognize the restrictions that market size can place on the ability to perform outstanding public service through journalism. If a publisher or station owner is nominated, the judges may consider his or her civic service and the successful management of conflicts that can arise between journalistic, managerial, ownership, and civic roles.

Sharon Burton, recipient of the 2016 Al Smith Award

Last year’s Al Smith Award winner was Sharon Burton, editor and publisher of the Adair County Community Voice and The Farmer’s Pride.

Nominations, supporting letters and sufficient documentation should be sent by May 10 to:
Al Smith Award
Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues
122 Grehan Journalism Building, University of Kentucky
Lexington KY 40506-0042

Nominations may also be sent electronically, to

For more information about Al Smith, the award and the nomination process, please contact Institute Director Al Cross at (859) 257-3744 or

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *