By JEFF JOBE
It was January 13, 1869 that a small group of newspaper publishers from across Kentucky came together on St. Clair Street in downtown Frankfort. They created a “society” that today is known as the Kentucky Press Association.
I have been associated with KPA since 1998 and have served as an elected board member since 2003. Perhaps the longest serving elected board member.
In the interest of full disclosure, it helped me hold the position in those early years because of the number of newspapers and votes my company has in my district.
However, in my current position as Vice-President and soon to be named President-Elect, I secured more state-wide support than others with several times more votes than Jobe Publishing.
I have made some wonderful friends and gained support from numerous community newspaper owners and fine media professionals from across Kentucky. I take pride in serving the organization but it is second to our readers.
The irony over the last couple weeks has once again had another round of misrepresentation of facts going on involving Kentucky newspapers; making it difficult to balance my desire to represent this fine organization and at the same time guard Kentuckians against “half-truths”. In my world “half-truths” are dangerous to our integrity and once a publisher has lost their integrity, they have lost the value of our most valuable commodity, trust.
It appears narratives for news is for sale in Kentucky and this saddens me terribly to write such a thing. Nothing as dastardly as someone writing a check for a specific story. More in the line of large corporate owners making sure their views are promoted in a positive light and more and more Kentucky newspapers are owned by out of state entities.
Last year, I encouraged several community journalists to reach out on their own in search of truth and found that the out-of-state owned papers weren’t allowed to make contact with Frankfort except through their vetted correspondents.
I’ve interviewed Governor Matt Bevin numerous times both before and after him being elected.
My most recent interview was in Frankfort and it was so detailed with color and fact that we chose to break it down into a feature story for several weeks, which is currently running.
I was also chosen to participate in the first SKYPE session for a White House Press Conference; coordinated by President Donald Trump. This fact was covered by more than 3000 media outlets across the world but for the most part ignored by my fellow Kentucky media professionals.
This is a classic symptom of the problems we see with today’s news coverage. Having President Trump reaching out to small communities is much the same as Governor Bevin giving hours of his time to rural community journalists and it is spun to be some attack on “real news”.
The state’s largest out-of-state owned newspapers and even our most liberal university journalism professors are making this an attack on the Governor as others did President Trump. Al Cross tweeted recently, “If @GovMattBevin can’t stand the heat he ought to get out of the kitchen.” Cross is a University of Kentucky Rural Journalism Professor and a part-time liberal political writer for the Louisville newspaper and seemed to initially believe only big city papers can ask tough questions. While it is my position that only independently owned journalists are strong enough to print the true answers.
Just imagine how strong we could be with support from those who pretend to educate, train and guard our profession.
This isn’t new, as a matter of fact some of the same individuals tried to get our organization to issue some official statement against the Governor last year and I’m proud it wasn’t even taken serious because we represent all newspapers; some who have wonderful relationships with the Governor and others who don’t.
I don’t think it is a big news scoop for anyone not to realize the reason these men and their staffs won’t cooperate with some media is because of the hostility shown toward them from their refusal in printing news outside their corporate narratives.
At a time when nobody says; “I know it’s true because I read it on the Internet”, let’s hope we can keep Kentucky news independent enough to print truthful answers for another 150 years.”
Jeff Jobe is founder and CEO of Jobe Publishing, Inc. His commentary reflects his personal views and does not reflect the views of personal or professional associations and affiliations. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his previously published commentary at www.jobeforkentucky.com.