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

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