Moderator: Dr. Chris Green, Director, Appalachian Center & Assoc. Professor of Appalachian Studies
Bill Estep has reported on Appalachian Kentucky since 1985 for the Lexington Herald-Leader. While the coal industry has withered and substance abuse worsened, the region has also improved its schools and stepped up efforts to diversify and rebuild the economy. Estep will share lessons learned from 38 years of covering Appalachian Kentucky, as well as the joys and difficulties of reporting about this region where he grew up and lives. The region has too often been subjected to assumptions and stereotypes that distort understanding of Appalachia and its people. One job Estep and the paper undertake is to provide insight into the region and its people for a local, state, and national audience. That has become more challenging in an era of deep political and cultural division and erosion of traditional media. Newspapers remain a vital source of information for our society, covering issues and stories that most other media outlets don’t. They have to find a way to continue that mission as Appalachia feels its way forward.