Anvil Rural Journalism Conference


photo by patrick breen

What’s the Anvil?

The Anvil, presented by Fly Over Media and The New Territory, is a one-day conference which connects journalists, consumers and students from rural and urban backgrounds for a conversation about journalism’s coverage of rural communities.

Overall, the conference prioritizes building a robust media-audience relationship where journalists understand what rural audiences need from media and how to report on rural issues to broader audiences.

The conference is free to all with a suggested $10 donation.

Conference videos

Did you miss the live stream or in-person conference? We want what was discussed at The Anvil to be available to all people at all times – so we’ve made each of the talks available below.


Saturday, April 8, 2017

*All times are Central Time

1:00 p.m. – Introduction, Fly Over Media executive director Andrew Dickinson

1:15 p.m. – What we miss when we miss small town Nebraska, Matthew Hansen

2:00 p.m. – Panel discussion: Reaching rural audiences, Chris Clayton, Joe Duggan, Matthew Hansen, Carson Vaughan

3:00 p.m. – BREAK

3:30 p.m. – Panel discussion: Covering small communities, Mary Anne Andrei, Ted Genoways, Lenzy Krehbiel-Burton, Ryan Soderlin

4:45 p.m. – KEYNOTE, Rachel Myslivy

5:45 p.m. – Outro, The New Territory magazine editor Tina Casagrand

6:00 p.m. – Reception, Ploughshare, 1630 P Street, one block east of conference venue.

Speaker list

MARY ANNE ANDREI (Panelist, Covering small communities)
Mary Anne Andrei is a writer-photographer at Nebraska Educational Telecommunications (NET). She is also the author of Nature’s Mirror: How the Taxidermists of Ward’s Natural Science Establishment Reshaped the American Natural History Museum and Founded the Wildlife Conservation Movement (University of Chicago Press, forthcoming 2018). Her photographs have appeared in Harper’s, Huffington Post, Maclean’s, Mother Jones, The New Republic, and OnEarth.

TINA CASAGRAND (The New Territory)
Tina Casagrand is the founder, publisher and editor of The New Territory, a new quarterly print magazine that enlivens connections among the land, people and possibilities of the Lower Midwest. She grew up in Dixon, Missouri, and now lives in Jefferson City. She is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists, serves on the crew of Missouri River Relief, and teaches on the faculty of the Missouri Scholars Academy.

CHRIS CLAYTON (Panelist, Reaching rural audiences)
Chris Clayton is the policy editor and interim markets editor for DTN/The Progressive Farmer. Chris has been recognized as writer of the year by the American Agricultural Editors’ Association and won story of the year multiple times from the organization. He also has won the Glenn Cunningham Agricultural Journalist of the Year Award from the North American Agricultural Journalists and served as the group’s president in 2012-13. The National Farmers Union and American Coalition for Ethanol also each have named Chris communicator of the year. In 2015, Chris self-published an e-book, The Elephant in the Cornfield, the politics of agriculture and climate change, which details the debate in rural America around renewable energy, climate volatility, greenhouse gas emissions and cap-and-trade.

Andrew Dickinson is a freelance photographer and videographer based in Lincoln, Nebraska. He’s also the executive director of Fly Over Media, a cultural education non-profit that supports, produces and publishes in-depth and multimedia journalism on rural and underrepresented communities. Andrew believes in collaboration, hard work and telling stories however they will best connect with their audience.

JOE DUGGAN (Panelist, Reaching rural audiences)
Joe Duggan has been a daily newspaper reporter for 27 years, all of which have been spent in Nebraska. He has worked at the Grand Island Independent, the Lincoln Journal Star and now at the Omaha World-Herald, where he’s part of a team in the Lincoln bureau covering the Legislature and state government. He has spent much of his career on the state and regional beats and has reported hard news and feature stories from all 93 of Nebraska’s counties.

TED GENOWAYS (Panelist, Covering small communities)
Ted Genoways is a writer and editor from Lincoln, Nebraska, whose honors include a National Press Club Award, the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism, an Association of Food Journalists Award, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation. His most recent book, The Chain: Farm, Factory, and the Fate of Our Food (Harper, 2014), was an in-depth examination of Hormel Foods and their controversial role in a USDA-sponsored high-speed hog processing program. He is currently working on Tequila Wars: The Bloody Struggle for the Spirit of Mexico, slated for publication by Norton in 2019.

Grant Gerlock (Moderator, Covering small communities)
Grant Gerlock is a reporter with Harvest Public Media, a collaboration among public broadcasters in the Midwest covering agriculture and rural issues. He’s based at NET in Lincoln, Nebraska where he’s worked on radio and television projects about everything from the farm economy to food waste. He grew up on a farm near Cumberland, Iowa – a village of about 250 people.

MATTHEW HANSEN (Speaker, “What we miss when we miss small town Nebraska” and Panelist, Reaching rural audiences)
Matthew Hansen is a metro columnist at the Omaha World-Herald, where he writes two or three columns a week focused on Omaha and Nebraska. In 2015, he profiled a tiny town called Seneca, Nebraska that voted itself out of existence, a column that the radio show, “Radiolab” recently turned into an episode (featuring Hansen) that connected Seneca to the rise of angry, right-wing populism. He was named the 2015 Great Plains Writer of the Year.

LENZY KREHBIEL-BURTON (Panelist, Covering small communities)
Although she hails from Tulsa, Oklahoma, Lenzy Krehbiel-Burton rarely covers her home town. A citizen of the Cherokee Nation, Krehbiel-Burton’s work currently appears in the Bigheart Times, Native Times, Native Oklahoma magazine, New Territory magazine, New York Times, Osage News, Reuters, the Tahlequah Daily Press and the Tulsa World. She is on the boards of the Native American Journalists Association and the Oklahoma SPJ chapter and is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.

RACHEL MYSLIVY (Keynote speaker)
Rachel Myslivy has engaged in community organizing and environmental education in Kansas for over a decade. She is the Assistant Director of the Climate + Energy Project, a Kansas-based nonprofit organization that seeks to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions in America’s Heartland.  Prior to this position, Rachel spent four years as a CEP Program Director managing the Water + Energy Progress initiative which celebrates Kansas farmers and ranchers whose innovative methods save water and energy.  Rachel co-founded the Kansas Women’s Environmental Network; established the St. John School Green Team and Parish Earth Care Committee; and was a founding member of the Lawrence Ecology Teams United In Sustainability (LETUS) initiative. Rachel’s family engages in diversified farming practices that focus on subsistence and experimentation in alternative agriculture. Inspired by the creativity, determination, and resilience of her children, Rachel is personally driven to leave the world a better place for future generations.

Andrew Norman (Moderator, Reaching rural audiences)
A fourth-generation Nebraskan, born in Grant and raised in Imperial, Andrew Norman is a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln journalism school. He served as managing editor of Omaha alternative newsweeklies Omaha City Weekly and The Reader before earning his master’s in environmental journalism at Michigan State University in 2010. Norman and his wife, Angie, founded Hear Nebraska (HN) that same year. Beginning as his master’s project, HN is a nonprofit dedicated to cultivating Nebraska’s music community. Norman serves as executive director of the organization, which employs two full-time and two part-time employees, dozens of contractors and interns, with offices in Lincoln and Omaha. The Normans live with their son, Townsend, in Omaha’s Benson neighborhood.

Ryan Soderlin (Panelist, Covering small communities)
Ryan Soderlin has been a photojournalist for 18 years, and has worked as a staff photographer for newspapers in Wyoming, Kansas, South Dakota and Nebraska. Ryan grew up working cattle and mending fences. His camera has carried him from the dirt of a rodeo arena to the marbled floors of Washington D.C.

Carson Vaughan (Panelist, Reaching rural audiences)
Carson Vaughan is a freelance writer originally from Broken Bow, Nebraska. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Vice, Smithsonian, Slate, American Cowboy, The New Territory and more. He is a graduate of the MFA program at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, where he served as nonfiction editor of the award-winning literary journal Ecotone, and currently writes a travel series for USA TODAY.


UNL’s College of Journalism and Mass Communications, Andersen Hall, 200 N. Centennial Mall, Lincoln, NE.


The Anvil is made possible with support from the following sponsors:

The views expressed in this program do not necessarily reflect the views of Humanities Nebraska and the Nebraska Cultural Endowment.