Six W.Va. Stories to Watch in 2017

Dec 30, 2016

Credit Frances Brundage / Wikimedia Commons

Front Porch hosts Scott Finn, Laurie Lin, and Rick Wilson tell us which stories they'll be following in 2017:

1. The fate of the Affordable Care Act. "Are they gonna throw 225,000 West Virginians under the bus? I hope they don't just get rid of something without replacing it," Wilson said.

2. Charter schools. West Virginia is one of only a handful of states not to allow privately-run charter schools, but Lin says that's likely to change this year. "It's been tried many, many times. The teacher unions have been so adamantly against it, it hasn't gotten done. I think this could be the year," she said.

3. The backlash against "fake news." Finn said, "Now you're seeing a really interesting trend where the Washington Post is hiring new reporters...the New York Times is expanding. Every time Trump tweets attacking a media outlet, the media outlet has a whole bunch of new subscribers."

"I think its been a real awakening for folks - the need for fact-based journalism," he said.

4. New awareness of white, working class voters. West Virginia is largely white and working class, Lin noted. "That can't be a bad thing, to have the nation and media focused on people like West Virginians," Lin said, as well as the Democratic party, which Lin said had largely written this group off.

5. Economic alternatives in the coalfields, Wilson said, with projects by groups like the Coalfields Development Corporation - especially in agriculture and tourism.

6. The end of the War on Coal rhetoric. With a new Trump administration, Finn predicted a decline in this sort of talk. "It allows people to start having better conversations about how we have to diversify," he said.

"The Front Porch” is a place where we tackle the tough issues facing West Virginia and Appalachia with some of the region's most interesting thinkers.

WVPB Executive Director Scott Finn serves as host and provocateur, joined by Laurie Lin, a conservative lawyer and columnist, and Rick Wilson, a liberal columnist and avid goat herder who works for the American Friends Service Committee.

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