Nominations for the Tom and Pat Gish Award for courage, tenacity and integrity in rural journalism are being accepted through April 15. To nominate a candidate, send a detailed letter explaining how the nominee shows the kind of exemplary courage, tenacity and integrity that Tom and Pat Gish demonstrated at The Mountain Eagle in Whitesburg for 51 years. Documentation does not have to accompany the nomination, but is helpful in choosing finalists, and additional documentation may be requested or required. Send your nominating letter and initial documentation to Al.Cross@uky.edu or 343 S. Martin Luther King Blvd., #206, Lexington KY 40506-0012.
The Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues named the award in 2005 for Tom and Pat Gish, who died in 2008 and 2014, respectively. Their son Ben is editor and publisher of the Eagle and serves on the award selection committee. The Gishes withstood advertiser boycotts, business competition, declining population, personal attacks, and even the burning of their office to give their readers the kind of journalism often lacking in rural areas, and were the first winners of the award named for them.
The Institute seeks nominations that measure up, at least in major respects, to the records of the Gishes and other previous winners. The award has gone only to newspaper people, but rural broadcasters and online journalists are eligible.
Past winners have been the Ezzell family of The Canadian Record in the Texas panhandle; Jim Prince and Stanley Dearman, current and late publishers of The Neshoba Democrat in Philadelphia, Miss.; Samantha Swindler of The Oregonian for her work at The Times-Tribune in Corbin, Ky., and Jacksonville Daily Progress in Texas; Stanley Nelson and the Concordia Sentinel in Ferriday, La.; Jonathan and Susan Austin of the now-defunct Yancey County News in western North Carolina; Landon Wills of the McLean County News in Kentucky; the Trapp family of the Rio Grande Sun in northern New Mexico; Ivan Foley of the Platte County Landmark in Missouri; the Cullen family of the Storm Lake Times in Iowa; and Les Zaitz of The Malheur Enterprise in eastern Oregon.