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Great Planes: National Media’s Understanding of America’s “Flyover Country”
Unformatted Document Text:  Great Planes: National Media’s Understanding of America’s “Flyover Country” 10 sheets and a random sample of eighteen total articles—six each from USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times—representing approximately ten percent of the study’s total articles. Coders were then asked to code the articles based on information received during coder training. Overall intercoder reliability was calculated at 97.49 percent, with topical agreement at 95.46 percent, and agreement on states discussed at 94.53 percent. Having achieved an acceptable percentage of intercoder reliability, the remaining data was coded and entered into SPSS for analysis. Frequency and cross-tab analysis was conducted to determine what states and topics were most commonly discussed by national media in relation to the Plains. Results Topics Discussed This study’s research question asks, in part, how select national media topically define the American Great Plains region. As table one, below, reflects, the most frequent topics covered across sampled media are economic activity, politics and government, agriculture, general human interest, and accidents and disasters. Some stories fit exclusively into one particular category. For instance, Wysocki’s (2001) piece highlighting the trials of Oklahoma City’s start-up Great Plains Airlines, or stories examining the pending sale of Fargo, North Dakota, based Great Plains Software to Microsoft examine no more than the economic impact and/or issues facing these particular ventures (Buckman, 2000). Stories of deadly tornados rolling across Kansas and other Plains states, and then putting the current rash of tornados in historical perspective by citing deadly tornados from years past, are purely the stuff of accidents and disasters (O’Driscoll, 2007). Conversely, weather-related stories telling of extreme weather—43 degrees below zero in Grand Forks, North Dakota, higher than average snowfall, and the continuing “arctic express” of Canadian air—but

Authors: Hough, Brian.
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Great Planes: National Media’s Understanding of America’s “Flyover Country” 10
sheets and a random sample of eighteen total articles—six each from USA Today, The Wall 
Street Journal, and The New York Times—representing approximately ten percent of the study’s 
total articles. Coders were then asked to code the articles based on information received during 
coder training. Overall intercoder reliability was calculated at 97.49 percent, with topical 
agreement at 95.46 percent, and agreement on states discussed at 94.53 percent. 
Having achieved an acceptable percentage of intercoder reliability, the remaining data 
was coded and entered into SPSS for analysis. Frequency and cross-tab analysis was conducted 
to determine what states and topics were most commonly discussed by national media in relation 
to the Plains.
Results
Topics Discussed
This study’s research question asks, in part, how select national media topically define 
the American Great Plains region. As table one, below, reflects, the most frequent topics covered 
across sampled media are economic activity, politics and government, agriculture, general 
human interest, and accidents and disasters. 
Some stories fit exclusively into one particular category. For instance, Wysocki’s (2001) 
piece highlighting the trials of Oklahoma City’s start-up Great Plains Airlines, or stories 
examining the pending sale of Fargo, North Dakota, based Great Plains Software to Microsoft 
examine no more than the economic impact and/or issues facing these particular ventures 
(Buckman, 2000). Stories of deadly tornados rolling across Kansas and other Plains states, and 
then putting the current rash of tornados in historical perspective by citing deadly tornados from 
years past, are purely the stuff of accidents and disasters (O’Driscoll, 2007). Conversely, 
weather-related stories telling of extreme weather—43 degrees below zero in Grand Forks, North 
Dakota, higher than average snowfall, and the continuing “arctic express” of Canadian air—but 


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