NEWS’ ‘Get The Shot’ campaign garners state, national attention

Posted October 7, 2021 at 8:38 am

Sanders with Gary.psd

Clinton County News reporter Gary Guffey being interviewed by Nashville based television reporter Forrest Sanders Monday. Sanders is preparing a piece about the ‘Get The Shot’ campaign recently promoted by the Clinton County News.

By now, hopefully, readers of the Clinton County News have noticed a campaign by the newspaper to urge Clinton County residents to take the COVID – 19 vaccination.

In the form of what is termed a “house ad” that has been published on the back page of two recent issues, the advertisement includes a photo of the five member Clinton County News staff, who have all been vaccinated.

The ad ends with the line “Come On Clinton County, Get the Shot” and includes a photo of the staff here at the Clinton County News – Al Gibson, Janie Gibson, Brett Gibson, Erika Roe and Gary Guffey, all sporting COVID-19 “Vaccinated” bracelets.

Since the promotion first appeared in the September 23 edition, it has attracted state and national attention among publications and groups within the newspaper publishing industry.

After the first publication of the campaign in the Clinton County News, Editor/Publisher Al Gibson forwarded a copy of the ad to Kentucky Press Association Director David Thompson at his Frankfort, Kentucky office.

In addition to reprinting the Clinton County News ad in his weekly internet newsletter that is distributed to all newspapers located in Kentucky, as well as other leaders in the industry, Thompson also told Al Cross about the campaign.

Cross, who is a native of Clinton County, and is currently a professor at the University of Kentucky, where he is the Director of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, reached out to Gibson on Saturday, September 25,and after a brief telephone interview, produced an article that he published on his widely read “The Rural Blog”.

Cross’ Rural Blog is described as being a “digest of events, trends, issues, ideas and journalism from and about rural America”.

Published by Cross’ department within the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, the Rural Blog article was also picked up by other industry related publications.

Among the additional outlets that gave attention to the Clinton County News “Get The Shot” campaign was an organization known as “The Daily Yonder”.

The Daily Yonder is a nationally recognized electronic newsroom that provides news, commentary and analysis about and for rural America.

In its lineup are a collection of podcasts, articles and commentaries that center around life in rural America and focus on politics, poverty and is very heavy on COVID-19 coverage as it affects those of us who live in rural settings.

Cross also submitted a similar article to Publisher’s Auxiliary, the official publication of the National Newspaper Association, which is read by it’s newspaper memberships across the nation and world.

A regular contributor to the Publisher’s Auxiliary, Cross’ column in that publication came under the heading “Into the Issues”.

This past Saturday, October 2, Cross informed NEWS Editor Al Gibson that he had also learned that the campaign had been given attention in a publication known as The Newstart Alliance.

A product of the West Virginia University Reed’s College of Media, The Newstart Alliance is also an electronic newsroom that is described as a newspaper ownership initiative whose mission is to recruit, train and support the next generation of community newspaper owners and publishers across the country.

The Newstart Alliance provides a brief “teaser” description of the “Get The Shot”
campaign, and offers readers a link to the Daily Yonder article about the campaign.

Cross also released the “Get The Shot” article on his weekly roundup of health related articles that he sends to Kentucky newspapers under the heading of “Kentucky Health News”.

In addition, just this week, the promotion attracted the attention of a television reporter from the Nashville, Tennessee area affiliated with the E.W. Scripps Company, the nation’s fourth largest local broadcast news station owner.

On Monday, Scripps video journalist Forrest Sanders traveled to Albany to spend the morning with the NEWS staff and collect video and interviews with the staff in order to produce a feature piece about the vaccination campaign.

Local readers of the Clinton County News might recognize the name Forrest Sanders from when he previously worked as a reporter for Nashville based television station WSMV – NBC (Channel 4) before being hired earlier this summer by the Scripps company.

The E.W. Scripps company is the nation’s fourth largest owner of local television stations and newsrooms across the nation.

The Scripps company currently owns 61 television stations in 41 markets, including WTVF – News Channel 5 in Nashville, and WLEX Channel 18 in Lexington, Kentucky.

During Monday’s stop in Albany and Clinton County, Sanders spent more than two hours in the Clinton County News office, interviewing the staff and videoing segments for the news piece he is working on.

Sanders said that eventually, the segment about the Clinton County News and its “Get the Shot” campaign will be edited down to about four minutes, and when released through the Scripps network, could air on any of those 61 news outlets across the nation.

“Although the main objective of the ‘Get The Shot’ campaign was to remind and urge Clinton County folks to get vaccinated, this attention from our industry across the nation has been welcomed and enjoyed,” Gibson said this week. “It’s been reassuring to know that what we are doing here at the Clinton County News, at least in regards to reporting on the COVID-19 pandemic, has gained the approval and respect of other journalists and journalism organizations elsewhere.

The following is the original article released by Cross, first on The Rural Blog, then on the Kentucky Health News

Rural news media need to promote vaccination, not just by delivering facts to quash misinformation, but by example

By Al Cross

Director, Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, University of Ky.

Millions of Americans say they have decided not to get vaccinated to protect themselves, their families and their neighbors from the coronavirus, but polling and anecdotal evidence show that some will change their minds. News media have a role to play in that, especially in rural America, where vaccination rates are lower than the rest of the nation, sometimes dangerously lower.

Few vaccine-hesitant or -resistant people are likely to be persuaded by a news story or editorial urging vaccination, but it’s important to keep delivering facts about the vaccines, because social media are awash with misinformation about them. And there’s another way to promote the shots: lead by example.

That’s what Alan Gibson, editor and publisher of the Clinton County News in Albany, did this week. On the back page of the newspaper is a “house ad” telling readers that the paper’s entire staff of five is vaccinated and urging readers to do likewise.

Gibson told me he got the idea from the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce’s “Covid Stops Here” campaign, which provides signs that businesses can download and print to display their level of vaccination, and lets them post their logos to do likewise.

Gibson knew his staff was fully vaccinated. “I thought, we should promote this,” he said. Why? “We’re one of the hardest-hit counties in the nation, but we’re one of the slowest to get vaccinated.” And he thought it would be better to persuade by example than to lecture: “Do as I do, you know? I’m tired of arguing with people, because the arguments aren’t valid.” He said it’s worth the effort “if just one or two people look at it and say, ‘I need to go ahead and do this.’”

Gibson could be called a beacon in a wilderness. Only two other newspapers have their logos posted on the Kentucky Chamber site, and they’re in the state’s most highly vaccinated counties: The State Journal of Frankfort, in Franklin County, and The Woodford Sun, in Versailles; 79% and 77% of the adjoining Bluegrass counties’ vaccine-eligible residents, respectively, are fully vaccinated. In Clinton County, where I grew up, it’s only 38%.

As editor and publisher of Kentucky Health News, I send a weekly update to Kentucky editors. A few weeks ago, I told them, “There is no more immediately pressing public interest in this country than persuading people to get vaccinated, and local medical professionals and news media are more trusted than those at state and national levels. Please do your part. It’s a slog, but if the heroes of public health can do it, so can we.”