Monday Roundup: ’60 Minutes’ and Jobless

Rural journalists on 60 Minutes • State Fair of Virginia is bankrupt • Who has it harder, farm animals or musicians? • Kansas House members the nation's most conservative

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We watched the 60 Minutes piece last night on Samantha Swindler and Adam Sulfridge, the editor and reporter at the Corbin (Ky.) Times-Tribune who uncovered enough evidence of corruption by the local sheriff to send him away for more than 15 years. Here’s a transcript of the show and the segment is in the video above. 

By the way, we can’t help but think that 60 Minutes came on this story because the Institute for Rural Journalism and Al Cross at the University of Kentucky gave this crew its Tom and Pat Gish Award for courage in rural journalism in 2010

Watch the segment to see an example of two very courageous journalists. But stick with it to the end to learn an amazing part of the story: Adam Sulfridge is unemployed.

Sulfridge hadn’t graduated from college when Swindler offered him a job at the paper. She could see talent, and she realized it helped that Sulfridge knew his way around the county. They did some very sophisticated reporting — records checks and some of the most incredible interviewing you’re likely to witness in journalism. (Move over Woodward and Bernstein.) And Sulfridge had to stand off thugs sent to quiet him. He pulled his pistol and sent the two men on their way.

Well, the sheriff was indicted. Samantha went on to be a publisher at a rural weekly in Tillamook, Oregon. (Thank goodness the New York Times is too dumb to miss that hire and she stayed in a rural community.) Then 60 Minutes reporter Byron Pitts reports, “Adam, just a year out of college and unemployed, remains in Whitley County.” 

A reporter this smart and courageous is out of work? Yep. 

• George Lindsey, aka Goober Pyle, died Sunday in Nashville. The native of Jasper, Alabama, was 83 years old.

Lindsey first appeared as Goober Pyle, Gomer’s brother, on The Andy Griffith Show. He kept playing Goober on Mayberry R.F.D. and on Hee Haw. The Times reports on critics of the character: 

The character of Goober was not to everyone’s taste. Some critics considered Mr. Lindsey’s portrayal of a rural Southerner a demeaning caricature. Mr. Lindsey disagreed.

“Goober is every man,” he told The Associated Press in 1985. “Everyone finds something to like about ol’ Goober.” 

• The infestation of pine beetles is so severe in the Black Hills region of South Dakota that Native American farmers are joining with timber companies to clear the forest of infected trees. 

Normally, the farmers want little to do with the loggers. 

• After 157 years, the State Fair of Virginia is shutting down. It’s gone bankrupt.  The Washington Post reports:

It’s another symbol of the increasing urbanization of Virginia, long a place that defined itself as a rural farm state and took pride in its peanuts, cotton, tobacco and ham. Now, with its cities and suburbs swelling, people are wondering: Can the state fair be saved?

Frontier Communications Corp. has made the Fortune 500. 

Frontier is the largest communications company in rural America. 

• There is opposition in Washington and Oregon to expanding ports there to handle more coal exports. 

No problem, says Union Pacific. The company is looking at exporting coal out of ports in Mexico.

• The Bluegrass Intelligencer notes that to reach the lowest level on Whole Foods Markets’ new animal welfare grading system, and animal must be raised on a strict vegetarian diet with no antibiotics or chemicals added.

“In the music industry, very few, if any, human touring professionals make it to Step 1,” noted T. Galpin, a recent music school graduate, writing on the Whole Foods blog. 

“I’d be disqualified for exposure to large amounts of caffeine, penicillin, pesticidal bug spray, automobile exhaust, very questionable keg beer, secondhand smoke, firsthand smoke, methyl anthrinilate, Early Times, so much processed meat, generic suntan lotion from China, Diet Mountain Dew, that kind of thing. And of course, the occasional psychedelic,” said Galpin.

• Danny Greene came to rural Eastern Kentucky to visit in 1968 and he returned a few years later to start a school. 

The David School, founded in 1973, is now the subject of a Kentucky Attorney General’s inquiry. In particular, the AG is trying to figure out if Greene overpaid himself from the nonprofit’s bank accounts.

Bill Estep of the Lexington Herald-Leader has a good story on the history of the school and its current legal troubles. Greene moved out of David, Kentucky, several years ago, leaving for Texas. The AG is investigating money Greene received from the school since he left Kentucky in 2005.

We know people who have had kids at the David School. They say the school was a wonder. In recent years, however, enrollment has dwindled. Now the David School may not survive.

• Gas wells pumping from the Marcellus shale formation in Pennsylvania generated $3.5 billion in gross revenues in 2011. In West Virginia, the total was $1.2 billion, according to the Associated Press. 

Gas prices continue to decline as new deposits are found and drilled. A few years ago, producers received as much as $6 for every 1,000 cubic feet of gas. Now it’s $2.50. The AP’s gross revenue total was figured at $3.50 per 1,000.

The AP reports that property owners receive a minimum of 12.5 percent of well revenues — or about $400 million in Pennsylvania last year.

Land values rose again in Iowa, according to a 2012 survey. Cash rents for land in Iowa have risen for 13 straight years. 

• The Kansas delegation to the U.S. House of Represenatives was the most conservative in the nation, according to rankings prepared by the National Journal. The four-member Kansas delegation had the most conservative voting record in the nation.

The next highest was Wyoming, which has only one delegate. Then South Dakota, Louisiana, Arkansas and Tennessee.

“That’s staggering,” said University of Kansas political scientist Burdett Loomis. “Wow. We really are in uncharted territory in how conservative these guys are.”

• The Minneapolis Star Tribune goes to Calumet, Minnesota to report on a community trying to save its post office. 

 

 

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