Middle America

A couple national journalists recently shared tweets either belittling a source or showing a severe lack of knowledge of the people and places they were covering.

More specifically, one journalist commented that Iowa “is very flat, driving is monotonous, there is more unbuilt land in one block than NYC has in an entire borough, dirt roads are terrifying, no one carries almond milk and caucus-goers are extremely well-informed.”

Another journalist posted a screenshot of a quote he transcribed verbatim spoken by a 17-year-old girl at an Elizabeth Warren event. The transcription had several “likes” and other words many young people — all people, really — say in casual conversation.

Before anything, I should say I like to think that I can laugh at myself and at my home state. I’m pretty easygoing most of the time. I don’t get insulted by much.

I say all of that because I don’t want anyone to get the impression I’m complaining because I have “thin skin.” I make fun of Iowa. I make jokes about young people. I don’t really care about that.

I’m complaining because these two journalists showed what I think is wrong with how some — that’s an important distinction — national journalists conduct themselves when talking to and about Americans living in the middle states.

Folks, we are three years out from one of the most blindsided election results in recent history, heading into one of the most anticipated elections in our lifetimes. Yet, we still have journalists from the coasts demonstrating how they either don’t care about or don’t know how to relate to the millions of Americans in the Heartland. These were the very people who surprised them with their votes last time!

These everyday people want to be understood. They want their issues to be heard. How can they trust a journalist who belittled a 17-year-old? Why would they want to talk to a journalist who is so obviously out of touch with the very people about which she is writing?

I love journalism. I love good journalists. We need the profession. I just think national media organizations can do better to connect to the people living in landlocked states.

(Maybe by hiring more journalists from the Midwest. Just a thought.)

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