Kentucky Resident Responds to NYT ‘Persistent Poverty’ Coverage

NYTHelpMeKYDuring the last weekend of June, the New York Times Magazine asked: “What’s the Matter With Eastern Kentucky?” Today, via an op-ed in The Floyd County Times, Jonathan Gay answers with the equivalent of: “Less than you think.”

Gay is the director of the Kentucky Innovation Network office in Morehead, where he works with local entrepreneurs. He
argues that the piece by Annie Lowrey was a classic case of big-city myopia and explains how he, pro-actively, is moving forward:

Rather than wait on the New York Times to tell that [hopeful] story, we’ve decided to start telling it ourselves. Through words, photos, tweets, social media and video, we will soon be launching a Web effort to tell the tales of entrepreneurs living in eastern Kentucky. We’ll begin with one each from the six eastern Kentucky counties the Times reported as being in the bottom 10.

Through these entrepreneurs’ stories, we hope to present a different picture about this region’s quality of life, progress and hope. By celebrating these entrepreneurial successes, we hope to inspire more people in our region to adopt entrepreneurship as a way of life. And by highlighting these people’s interesting careers and lives, we hope to start a discussion in the media about a different side of the region than the one they so often choose to report.

The forthcoming website for this effort,, is a reference to the fact that to illustrate the Lowrey piece, the Times had Kelsey Dake mock up a personalized Kentucky license plate that reads “Help Me” (shown above).