East KY Leadership Award for Media

73-year-old Earl Kinner has been in the newspaper business since he was 6-years-old. That is when he moved to West Liberty and never left.

Kinner's family took over the Licking Valley Courier, a more than 100-year-old newspaper, in 1944.

Kinner has been a jack of all trades growing up in a print shop.

Kinner calls himself a "country newspaper man" and that he is with deep roots and undeniable dedication to the Licking Valley Courier and the people of his hometown.

Earl Kinner calls himself a country newspaper man, which he says he can thank his father for.

It is a passion he could not escape growing up in a print shop along side his family in West Liberty.

"Well, I don't know if it was a passion in the beginning, but yes, it has become one. To tell you the truth about it, I don't know how to do much of anything else!" said Kinner.

With family ties dating back to 1944 with the Licking Valley Courier, Kinner's life has revolved around the newspaper business.

"When I was a kid, I started out sweeping the floor. And then after that I graduated to what was called lead type then. I would kill the forms after every edition was printed," said Kinner.

As a student at Morgan County High School, Kinner wrote sports stories for the paper.

He graduated in 1955 and then continued his education with two years at a vocational school and three years at the University of Kentucky where he wrote for the Kentucky Kernel.

In 1963, Kinner officially assumed responsibilities at the Licking Valley Courier and has never left.

"I guess it's because it's all that I've really ever done. It's just the way we do. That's just the newspaper business," said Kinner.

Since working at the paper, it has been anything but a cake walk for Kinner.

From a fire in 1985 that wiped out the newspaper to his wife of 46 years dying last July to the tornado outbreak on March 2, this year has been challenging to say the least for this 73-year-old.

"If there is a purpose, I don't know what it is. The only thing I know to do is to just keep chugging doing what I've always done. We're trying to build it back. The town needs a newspaper, and we're going to try to keep it," said Kinner.

Despite the odds, Kinner says he did what every good old newspaper man does and kept writing encouraging his employees to do the same even after losing his business and home.

"In the back of mind, it was just one way to let people know we're still kicking. And we haven't missed an edition. I don't know how that happened, but we haven't missed an edition," said Kinner.

The first edition of the Licking Valley Courier after the tornado hit the headline read "Thank God for sparing so many."

"We were proud. It never even crossed my mind that there's going to be a town here, I mean you know, every small town has got to have a newspaper or at least I think they do," said Kinner.

So quitting when things get tough is not something Kinner does or ever will do.

His roots and dedication to the Licking Valley Courier go just about as deep as they possibly can.

"The only thing I'm good at or pretty good at is getting out a newspaper, so now we've got to start from scratch and we're going to try to make it!" said Kinner.

Kinner says retirement is out of the question.

The 2012 East Kentucky Leadership Award for Media goes to Earl Kinner.


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