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Fifth Annual Eccles Family Rural West Conference

A Healthier Rural West: Critical Issues…Innovative Solutions

Santa Fe, New Mexico, March 23-25, 2017

Panel 7: News Deserts in the Rural West

« Environmental Health

Concluding Remarks »


The stereotype of the influential small-town newspaper is enduring. People may have derided their local paper, but they read it — or rued the fact that they hadn’t. Reporting and editing for these small papers was intimate in a way that big-city journalism could never be. But many of the forces that have disrupted metro and national news organizations have decimated small-town journalism as well. Consolidation and new forms of ownership mean that key decisions about staffing may be made hundreds of miles away, by people who have no stake in the community. The implications for government accountability and effective self-governance are ominous. What new forms of journalism can emerge to counter these trends?

Held March 25, 2017 at the School for Advanced Research, Santa Fe, NM


Speakers Click name to cue video

Panel Recap

According to a 2015 study, only one in five Westerners think their local news is relevant and valuable. Rural journalists endorsed collaboration over competition to deliver news that matters to their audiences and remain viable in an ever-changing media landscape. The panel also discussed the importance of regaining communities’ trust and that journalists need to do a better job of immersing themselves in the communities they cover.

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Panel 3: Housing


Readings on Rural Journalism

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« Environmental Health

Concluding Remarks »



Rural West Conference Volume

Bridging the Distance

Common Issues of the Rural West

Edited by David B. Danbom
Foreword by David M. Kennedy

Published in cooperation with the Bill Lane Center for the American West, Stanford University
The University of Utah Press has published Bridging the Distance, a book by the Rural West Initiative of the Bill Lane Center for the American West. Edited by the distinguished historian David B. Danbom and with a foreword by Center co-founding director David M. Kennedy, the book explores the Rural West across four dimensions: Community, Land, Economics – and defining the Rural West itself. The book is the result of work presented at the first Conference on the Rural West, which took place in Ogden, Utah, in October 2012.