3 Myths About Rural America and How to Debunk Them

The effort to debunk common myths about rural America in academia and the news media continues.

1 minute read

November 16, 2020, 11:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Central Valley

David A Litman / Shutterstock

An article by Anne Junod, Clare Salerno, and Corianne Payton Scally notes that the "drive-by" journalism of recent years—reporters from major national or urban publications "flocking" to rural areas to find out what happened in the 2016 election—is creating persistent but false depictions of life in rural America.

The problem of drive-by journalism is exacerbated by the closing of newsroom in many small metropolitan areas and rural areas, meaning that local perspectives are suddenly less available.  

Junod, Salerno, and Payton Scally focus on three myths in particular in an effort to debunk some of these harmful mischaraterizations:

  1. Rural America is the white, agricultural "heartland."
  2. Poor, rural people live in "cultures of poverty."
  3. "Rural" is a singular voting bloc.

After providing evidence to counter each of those claims, the article also provides recommendations for strengthening research and reporting in rural settings.

  1. Understand that rural issues are urban issues are suburban issues.
  2. Develop and invest in rural cultural competencies.
  3. Report on rural opportunities and assets in addition to challenges.

Friday, October 30, 2020 in Urban Institute

Aerial view of homes on beach in Maui, Hawaii

Hawaii Passes First Legislation Regulating Short-Term Rentals Statewide

The new law will give counties the power to limit number or short-term rentals and convert existing short-term rental units back into long-term residential housing.

May 13, 2024 - USA Today

Google office building in Virginia.

Virginia Data Centers Draining State’s Water Supply

Being the world’s largest data center hub is having a severe impact on local water resources.

May 9, 2024 - Grist

Entrance to a drive-through car wash at night with green 'Enter' sign.

Ohio Towns Move to Ban New Car Washes

City officials in northeast Ohio are putting limits on how many car wash facilities can open in their towns.

May 16, 2024 - News 5 Cleveland

Grand Coulee Dam in Washington state.

Northwest Power Demand Could Surge as Data Centers, Transportation Electrification Ramps Up

New estimates project a steady increase in electricity demand due to population growth, data centers, and the shift to electric power in homes, buildings, and transportation.

May 17 - Governing

Blurred traffic speeding by on freeway with Los Angeles skyline in background.

California Testing Per-Mile Gas Tax Alternatives

A summer pilot program will test the fairness and efficacy of collection mechanisms for mileage-based fee options.

May 17 - Newsweek

Close-up of 'Pay rent' note in red marker on day 1 of monthly calendar.

After Months of Decreases, Rents Nationwide Are Going Up

Average rents rose by $12 around the country so far this year.

May 17 - Smart Cities Dive

News from HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Call for Speakers

Mpact Transit + Community

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.