If I read one more thinkpiece about how reporters/liberal think-tankers/big-money activists need to leave the NY/DC nest and come out and eat fried chicken with the rubes I will lose my mind.
There’s no reason to fly your reporters to Columbus and Kalamazoo.
You don’t have to go back to school for an anthropology degree so you can write boring-ass longform wanks about the ways of the hicks who are strange to us all.
You just have to pay, and listen to, and care about, the journalists and activists and human services workers who are ALREADY HERE, who know which kringle shop is the best one, and can tell you all about the local politics and how the watch factory closed and who that hurt and why.
Read, and listen, to the voices in the Rust Belt, just as you should read and listen to people all over the world whose experience is other than yours. The irony is that people with the most education and worldly experience are often the most provincial, bragging, instead of being embarrassed, that “they have never been west of the Mississippi” or that they “always get Iowa and Ohio confused.”
So what’s the takeaway here? Why not work toward a “local writing” movement akin to the local foods one? Make it a priority to give money, or clicks, to writers who live in the region they are writing about. This is as much a plea to big media as it is to its readers.
Maybe we could have a “local media Saturday” akin to “small business Saturday,” and encourage people to subscribe or donate. Editors should hire writers living in the Midwest to write stories about their region, instead of flying in journalists from elsewhere. Meanwhile, readers could do the flying in, taking a trip to Detroit or southern Indiana, spending time getting to know the region and its vibrant, dynamic communities, contributing to the local economy as they do.
In the weeks since the election I keep reading “heartwarming” stories about people subscribing to the Times and the Post. That’s nice. Friends of mine work at those places and compared to the septic tank explosion that is CNN, the two big papers are fabulously deserving of your money and attention.
However, they are a) not in need of extra cash and b) not publicly guaranteeing that your six bucks a month or whatever is gonna directly pay David Farenthold to fuck Donald Trump up.
Whereas, if you send your media money to a local shop you can be sure it’s not going to pay to load the company up with debt and needless acquisitions of TV stations and sports teams and shit.
Here are some Midwest suggestions (add your own in the comments):
Belt, without which I really don’t think I would have survived this election.
The Chicago Reader, which regularly takes on stories the downtown dailies can’t/won’t touch, which needs petition support.
Big Media, Big Liberal Policy, Big Thought-Leading doesn’t have to come get to know flyover country.
They just have to Google flyover country’s reporters and send them some goddamn checks. Hire the effective locals on contract or — gasp! — staff. Listen to what they say.
And once and for all stop acting like coming up through the farm system of exurban & neighborhood organizations is inferior to a graduate degree. Months and years on the ground in a place you know beats a fancy CV every time.