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In Memoriam :: Tom Gish

Tom Gish, Legendary Kentucky Publisher, Dies
Editor & Publisher
November 24, 2008

Tom Gish, who shined the spotlight on corruption and environmental degradation in his corner of southeastern Kentucky as an award-winning publisher of The Mountain Eagle of Whitesburg for a half-century, died Friday [Nov. 21]. He was 82.

His son, Ben Gish, said he died at Pikeville Medical Center.

Tom Gish and his wife, Pat, overcame floods, threats, arson and attempted suppression to deliver news in the weekly publication with the slogan: “It Screams!”

“He was the inspiration for several generations of journalists, mainly because of his moral authority about how he ran his paper,” said longtime journalist Bill Bishop, who worked at the newspaper from 1975 to 1977.

The Gishes took on previously untouched issues, from strip mining to police corruption.

They endured advertising boycotts, faced violent threats and had their newspaper offices firebombed in 1974. Showing their grit, the Gishes churned out another issue a week after the incident, with the masthead stating “It Still Screams!”

Dee Davis, head of the Whitesburg-based advocacy group Center for Rural Strategies, said Gish “took the side of the little guy” and “wasn’t afraid to take on the well-heeled.”

“I think his life was a testament to what journalism in a small town could do,” Davis said. “It was an advocate’s voice for improving education and health care, and it was a vigilant eye against corruption and malfeasance.”

Read more about Tom Gish on Editor & Publisher.

[via Dawn Potter]

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