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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

National media coverage of the Midwest

Posted By on Wed, Mar 28, 2007 at 3:25 PM

I love reading haughty East Coasters ruminate over the phenomenon that is the Midwest. So when the Columbia Journalism Review ran "Missing Middle" by NYC columnist Michael Massing, I knew I was in for some serious cringe time. Massing contemplates why the Midwest is so poorly covered in the national media. Aside from blaming its general lack of presence in places like Ohio — they're too busy talking gentrification over $10 Red Stripes at some Lower Eastside bar — he also points to the destructive budget slashing at major daily newspapers throughout the Heartland. While Massing's call to arms for more national coverage of our area was a much appreciated gesture, his own ignorance of who we really are as a people — quaint religious zealots who can't afford college — left me feeling that I don't really want New Yorkers coming in and writing about us after all. If you're flying in to simply cover mega churches and illiteracy, go home, please. It reminds me of a recent flight I was on from Los Angeles. As the plane landed at Midway Airport in Chicago, the girl behind me said, "The Midwest — it's best known for being flat and boring. And everyone has a garage." The main problem with America's misunderstanding of the Midwest is best illustrated by Professor Victoria Ekstrand of Bowling Green: "It's one thing to fly in and cover a news event and fly out. To understand the full context, you have to live in the community. I understand the country so much better now that I live here." — Denise Grollmus


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