Essay | wprnPublicRadio.com
The Neglect Of Rural America | wprnPublicRadio.com
Written by Adam Scull
Mainstream media’s neglect of rural America is a multifaceted issue with deep-rooted causes and significant consequences. First and foremost, the economic model of media outlets plays a crucial role. Media companies, driven primarily by profit motives, focus on urban areas with more viewers and readers. This audience concentration translates into greater advertising revenue and influences the type of content produced. As diverse melting pots, urban areas provide many stories that are perceived to have broader appeal, inadvertently sidelining rural narratives, often deemed less newsworthy in the context of national interests.
Secondly, there’s a cultural disconnect between predominantly urban-based media professionals and rural populations. Journalists, editors, and media executives often hail from or are based in metropolitan areas, leading to an inherent urban bias in their reporting and storytelling. This geographical and cultural divide results in a lack of understanding and appreciation of the issues, lifestyles, and perspectives prevalent in rural America. As a result, stories that resonate deeply within rural communities might be overlooked or misunderstood by mainstream media, perpetuating a cycle of underrepresentation and misrepresentation.
The third factor is the homogenization of news sources. Media ownership has been consolidated significantly in recent decades, with a few large corporations controlling most news outlets. This consolidation favors a one-size-fits-all approach to news, which inevitably skews towards urban-centric narratives. Smaller local newspapers, which once served as the voice of rural communities, have been dwindling, further exacerbating the issue. Rural areas’ unique challenges and successes often get lost in this homogenized media landscape, depriving these communities of a platform to share their stories nationally.
Another aspect to consider is the technological and infrastructural disparities between urban and rural areas. Broadband access, for example, is significantly lower in rural regions, impacting digital news consumption. Mainstream media, increasingly focusing on digital platforms to disseminate news, may need to pay more attention to rural audiences who need consistent access to these platforms. This digital divide not only limits the availability of news tailored to rural communities but also restricts these communities’ ability to engage with and influence mainstream media narratives.
Lastly, the issue is self-perpetuating. The lack of representation of rural America in mainstream media leads to stereotypes and misconceptions, discouraging media outlets from investing in these areas. This cycle reinforces the notion that rural stories are not of national interest, further alienating these communities. This underrepresentation has significant implications, including a need for more awareness about rural issues among the broader population and policymakers and a sense of alienation and misunderstanding within rural communities.
The neglect of rural America by mainstream media is a complex issue rooted in economic models, cultural divides, media consolidation, technological disparities, and a self-perpetuating cycle of underrepresentation. Addressing this issue is crucial for a more balanced and inclusive media landscape that reflects the diverse tapestry of American life.