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Al Cross

Education Background: 
B.A. Western Kentucky University
Specialty Areas: 
Community Journalism
Health Journalism
Political Journalism
Al Cross

As director of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, Cross helps rural news media define the public agenda in their communities and report on broader issues that have local impact but few local sources. Cross helped organize the Institute, which has academic partners at 28 universities in 18 states. He became its director in 2004, after more than 26 years as a reporter at The Courier-Journal, the last 15½ as chief political writer. He writes a political column about twice a month for the Louisville newspaper and the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism, and is a KET political commentator.
His awards include the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame (2010), the Media Awards of the East Kentucky Leadership Foundation (2006) and the Kentucky Psychological Association (2013), the James Madison First Amendment Award of the Scripps Howard First Amendment Center at UK (2015), and a share of the 1989 Pulitzer Prize won by The Courier-Journal’s staff for coverage of the nation’s deadliest bus and drunk-driving crash. He shared an investigative reporting award in the Southern Journalism Awards for a 1987 series on surface mining, including some of the first comprehensive stories on mountaintop removal. In 2011 he received the Wells Key, the top honor of the Society of Professional Journalists, the nation’s oldest, broadest and largest journalism organization. He was national SPJ president in 2001-02, and has received awards for his work from SPJ’s Louisville Chapter. He is often quoted nationally on Kentucky politics and has appeared on PBS’s “Washington Week In Review.”
He began his journalism career at the Clinton County News and was an announcer at WANY in Albany. He was editor of The Reporter in Monticello in 1975; assistant managing editor of The Logan Leader and The News-Democrat at Russellville in 1975-77; and editor of the Leitchfield Gazette and the Grayson County News-Gazette in 1977-78. He established The Courier-Journal’s Somerset bureau in May 1978, moving with it to Bardstown in 1979, when it became the Central Kentucky Bureau. He covered legislative sessions from 1980 to 2004. In Louisville in 1984-86, he covered education, transportation and politics. He joined The C-J's Frankfort Bureau in 1987 and became political writer in 1989. He was part of a Courier-Journal team that won the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for General News Reporting for “exemplary initial coverage of a bus crash that claimed 27 lives” at Carrollton, Ky. He is married to Patti Hodges Cross, a Grayson County native and independent designer/editor of publications. They live in a 1907 home in historic South Frankfort, near the state Capitol, with Henry, their West Highland White Terrier.

Recent Publications

  • The Rural Blog,
  • Kentucky Health News,
  • Midway Messenger, and
  • Political columns for The Courier Journal,
  • “Into the Issues” columns for Pub Aux, monthly newspaper of National Newspaper Association
  • “Trump and non-metropolitan America: An urbanite saw a rural base where pollsters and journalists didn’t,” in The Trump Presidency, Journalism and Democracy, Gutsche, ed., Routledge, 2018
  • “Bridging the Academia-Media Gap,” with Lisa Simpson, MB, MPH, president and chief executive officer, AcademyHealth, in Knowledge to Action 2, Oxford University Press, 2018
  • “Circulating News in Rural China and Appalachia,” with You You of Shanghai University in Global Mountain Regions, Indiana University Press, 2018
  • “Republican Redoubt: The Politics of Kentucky’s Upper Cumberland,” with David Cross, in People of the Upper Cumberland: Achievements and Contradictions, Birdwell and Dickinson, eds., University of Tennessee Press, 2015
  • “Extension Journalism: Teaching students the real world and bringing a new type of journalism to a small town,” Grassroots Editor, International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors, Vol. 54, No. 3-4, Fall/Winter 2013
  • Hahn, Miller, Rayens, Fallin, Record, McNary, Tennen and Cross, “Training rural journalists in tobacco control,” Journal of the Kentucky Medical Association, July 2013 (report on training program coordinated by Cross)
  • Cross, A., and Vos, S., “Reporting Health: Rural newspaper coverage of health in Kentucky,” Grassroots Editor, International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors, Vol. 53, No. 3-4, Fall/Winter 2012
  • “A critical time for freedom,” column on freedom of information legislation, Mmegi newspaper, Gaborone, Botswana, Aug. 7, 2012
  • “Help Defend Paid Public Notices,” Quill magazine, Society of Professional Journalists, Feb. 2012 (republished by several state press association publications)
  • “Writing About People You Know,” essay on community journalism for Nieman Reports, Nieman Foundation for Journalism, Harvard University, Summer 2011"

al.cross [at]

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