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Kentucky's Ultimate Watchdog Journalist

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Better stay away from him
He'll rip your lungs out, Jim

-Warren Zevon

"Keaton always said, 'I don't believe in God, but I'm afraid of him.'
Well, I believe in God, and the only thing that scares me is Keyser Soze."

-Verbal Kent (Kevin Spacey's Oscar winning character in The Usual Suspects)

I spent a portion of my life running political campaigns in Kentucky. I wasn't scared of the campaign running out of money or the candidate doing something stupid.

I feared Al Cross. He was my Keyser Soze.

If Cross was calling, something had gone seriously wrong. Maybe fatally wrong.

And Cross was the one who was going to tell the world about it.

Al had a long career as the top political writer for the Louisville Courier-Journal. He is now the Director of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, based at the University of Kentucky.

In April, he is being inducted in the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame.

Al is an obvious pick. It's like Michael Jordon going into the Basketball Hall of Fame or Johnny Bench making it to Cooperstown.

Cross had a lock on the Hall of Fame a long time ago.

Along with his award-winning journalism, Al was national president of the Society of Professional Journalists. (SPJ.) Cross is a role model for political reporters around the country.

Former Louisville television legend Mark Hebert (who will get his own Hall of Fame invitation someday) once told me that Al Cross was the greatest reporter in the history of Kentucky and explained in detail why that was true.

Mark made a compelling case. No one worked harder or longer to gather all the nuances of a story than Al Cross.

In this era of declining media revenues and budget slashing, Herbert thought it would be difficult to produce again a Kentucky journalist like Al Cross.

No one went after the bad guys as often or as hard as Al Cross.

A few years ago, Al Cross and I changed careers. I stopped working on campaigns and started writing about them. Al went into academia.

Our mutual mentor, Al Smith (Smith is my role model but Cross worked for him and lived in Smith's house for a while) worked with other nationally recognized journalists, like Rudy Abramson, to launch the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues.

Al Cross is the director. The Institute is housed at the University of Kentucky and has academic partners all around the country.

I support the Institute with both my time and my checkbook. The Institute's mission is to help rural media outlets maintain and improve their quality and to let the "big city" media know about what is going on in that "other America."

My column runs primarily in small town newspapers and the Institute was a big boost in helping me get started. Each day, it publishes a "Rural blog" that spotlights rural issues and rural writers. My initial appearances on that blog got my column noticed in a lot of big-time places.

In today's cluttered media world, we need a voice like the Institute to keep the focus on issues that may get lost or overlooked.

Because bad guys are still out there.

And they need to know that someone like Al Cross is keeping an eye on them.

The website for the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues is:
http://www.ruraljournalism.org/

Don McNay, CLU, ChFC, MSFS, CSSC is one of the world's leading authorities in helping people deal with "Big Money" issues.

McNay is an award winning, syndicated financial columnist and Huffington Post Contributor.

You can read more about Don at www.donmcnay.com

McNay founded McNay Settlement Group, a structured settlement and financial consulting firm, in 1983 and Kentucky Guardianship Administrators LLC in 2000. You can read more about both at www.mcnay.com

McNay has Master's Degrees from Vanderbilt and the American College and is in the Eastern Kentucky University Hall of Distinguished Alumni.

McNay has written two books. McNay is starting a book tour for his second book, Son of a Son of a Gambler: Winners, Losers and What to Do When You Win The Lottery starting April 10 in Richmond, KY.

McNay is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Round Table and has four professional designations in the financial services field.