So Long, Emily Blair

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

It’s time to bid farewell to our summer associate at KET, Emily Blair. She’s off to complete her senior year at Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina.

Emily’s bright smile and sensational attitude were delightful to be around the past few months. She assisted us in many tasks around the office and in the field as a researcher, associate producer, and video editor. She completed every assignment and always seemed to have time for more work.

Emily Blair

KET Summer Associate Emily Blair.

Her “What did you do on your summer break?” moment came when I asked her to compile a video diary of her trip to the Fancy Farm political picnic with the KET crew.

Here are her reflections of those hectic two days in August:

So long, Emily. We’ll miss you and good luck in the next few months before graduation from Furman.

New York Times Explores Sen. Mitch McConnell’s Life in Politics

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

As I have written before, our U.S. Senate race is getting attention from print and broadcast media as well as bloggers from all over the world. It’s not uncommon to see the contest between Sen. Mitch McConnell and Alison Lundergan Grimes mentioned in many state and national publications almost daily.

But it is unusual to find a newspaper or magazine devoting 6,000 words to the Kentucky campaign. The New York Times did that in a piece that was posted online yesterday, and will be published in the magazine section of this Sunday’s print edition.

The paper’s National Political Correspondent Jonathan Martin spent time in Kentucky and Washington this summer researching the race and the Republican incumbent. Martin’s detailed reporting on McConnell is quite well done. He gained a remarkable degree of access to and openness from the senator, as well as his aides and friends, and even some folks who don’t think too fondly of the 30-year Capitol Hill veteran.

I talked with Martin and I asked him about his interest in the race and how he put his story together.

The Complicated Question of Coal

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

I concluded yesterday’s Kentucky Tonight conversation on coal and energy policy with a question I borrowed from a column Al Cross wrote for the Courier-Journal entitled “Blowing Smoke on Coal’s Future.” (You’ll have to read the piece to discover who Cross thinks is the smoke-blower.)

In his first paragraph, Cross writes, “Politics keeps complicating efforts to diversify the economy of Appalachian Kentucky, especially the eastern-coalfield counties that have seen nearly half their jobs disappear in the last two years.”

So the question I asked our Kentucky Tonight panel was this: Is coal complicating the U.S. Senate race?

Do we know today or will we know on November 5, the day after the election, just how big the coal issue has been this campaign season? One of our guests, Kentucky Coal Association President Bill Bissett, said it is the number one political issue this year.

Polling indicates that about 10 percent of voters remain undecided in the U.S. Senate contest between incumbent Republican Mitch McConnell and Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes. But when the Bluegrass Poll asked respondents which candidate they trusted more to strike a good balance between protecting coal industry jobs and preserving the environmental from the effects of burning coal, those who say they’re undecided jumps to 18 percent.

So, how big is the coal question? Here’s is what our panelists had to say Monday night. In addition to Bissett, our guests were Sarah Lynn Cunningham, an environmental engineer, educator, and director of the Louisville Climate Action Network; Tom FitzGerald, director of the Kentucky Resources Council; and Steve Gardner, president and CEO of ECSI and president-elect of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration.

Watch the full Kentucky Tonight discussion or read the recap.

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