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2017 Trees Retreat

Al Cross to discuss community journalism challenges

This year’s presenter is Al Cross, director of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, extension professor of journalism at the University of Kentucky, a political columnist for The (Louisville) Courier-Journal and a former weekly newspaper editor and manager.

The training sessions include:

  • The Rural-Urban Divide & the Role of Newspapers: Wisconsin and America are more divided than ever along rural-urban lines, as the elections of Scott Walker and Donald Trump showed. Did rural and urban newspapers help create that disconnect, and how can they bridge it at a time when discussions of political issues are polarized by partisan and social media?
  • Beyond the County Line: Most weekly newspaper readers don’t read a daily newspaper, or any newspaper daily, so their information on state and national issues is often driven by superficial or biased reports. Community newspapers must focus on local news, but sometimes their readers could use help with broader issues. Cross has ideas for doing that.
  • New Challenges in Community Journalism: Community journalists have always had to manage the ever-present conflict between their personal and professional interests; now they must also explain the essential distinctiveness of real journalism, and defend its role in democracy, at a time when it and open-government principles are under attack.

About Al Cross

Al Cross is the director of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, which helps non-metropolitan journalists define the public agenda for their communities and grasp the local impact of broader issues. Cross is also an extension professor in the School of Journalism and Telecommunications at the University of Kentucky, where the Institute is based. Prior to becoming director of the institute in 2004, Cross edited and managed weekly newspapers before spending 26 years at The (Louisville) Courier-Journal.

He was part of The Courier-Journal staff winning the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the nation’s deadliest bus crash. He was co-recipient of an award for environmental reporting in the Southern Journalism Awards for a 1987 series on strip mining. In 2010 he entered the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame. He has appeared on C-SPAN and “Washington Week In Review.”

Cross is a past president of the Society for Professional Journalists. He was national chairman of Project Watchdog, an SPJ effort to explain the role of the news media in a democratic society. He has been chairman of the SPJ Resolutions and Government Relations committees, a member of the International Journalism Committee and the Ethics Committee and a director of SPJ’s Sigma Delta Chi Foundation.

Register for Trees


The WNA Foundation Trees Retreat has been providing training for Wisconsin newspaper professionals since 1947.


The Trees Retreat Golf Outing will celebrate its 50th Anniversary this year. Proceeds will benefit the WNA Foundation.


When you’re not catching up with old friends around the campfire or participating in one of the many events on the Trees Retreat schedule, we encourage you to explore the beautiful Northwoods.

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