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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” 12 In examining topics by publication, as one might expect, The Wall Street Journal relies heavily on economics and agriculture (of which economy is a part), and tends to avoid lifestyle and general human interest stories. Conversely, The New York Times and USA Today demonstrate more balanced coverage in terms of economics and general human interest stories, while doing relatively few stories focusing on agriculture. States Discussed Another goal of this study is to examine what states select national media include in their definition of the Great Plains because, as stated above, spatial understandings of the Plains are somewhat debatable. Table two, below, displays overall frequency of states named as part of the Plains. Economic, agricultural, and political concerns tend to dominate the most frequently mentioned states of North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Texas, and Kansas. The “regional” category appears frequently in stories comparing the Plains to other regions or places, particularly in terms of weather or political decisions. The “general human interest” and “accidents and disasters” categories also frequently appear either on their own, or in conjunction with one another, in the stories mentioning the top five frequency states. This is because the “general human interest” category includes discussions on weather, which accounts for a fair amount of material examined by the current study. In examining the states that national media most commonly associated with the Great Plains it appears that geographic landscape definitions such as Wishart’s (2009) are broader than the national media’s understanding of the region. Indeed, from a landscape perspective the Plains take up a significant portion of states such as Colorado, Wyoming, and New Mexico; however these places account for a relatively small percentage of places national media relate to the Great Plains. As trivial as the source might initially appear, the National Scenic Byways Project—

Authors: Hough, Brian.
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Great Planes: National Media’s Understanding of America’s “Flyover Country” 12
In examining topics by publication, as one might expect, The Wall Street Journal relies 
heavily on economics and agriculture (of which economy is a part), and tends to avoid lifestyle 
and general human interest stories. Conversely, The New York Times and USA Today 
demonstrate more balanced coverage in terms of economics and general human interest stories, 
while doing relatively few stories focusing on agriculture. 
States Discussed
Another goal of this study is to examine what states select national media include in their 
definition of the Great Plains because, as stated above, spatial understandings of the Plains are 
somewhat debatable. Table two, below, displays overall frequency of states named as part of the 
Plains. Economic, agricultural, and political concerns tend to dominate the most frequently 
mentioned states of North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Texas, and Kansas. The “regional” 
category appears frequently in stories comparing the Plains to other regions or places, 
particularly in terms of weather or political decisions. 
The “general human interest” and “accidents and disasters” categories also frequently 
appear either on their own, or in conjunction with one another, in the stories mentioning the top 
five frequency states. This is because the “general human interest” category includes discussions 
on weather, which accounts for a fair amount of material examined by the current study. 
In examining the states that national media most commonly associated with the Great 
Plains it appears that geographic landscape definitions such as Wishart’s (2009) are broader than 
the national media’s understanding of the region. Indeed, from a landscape perspective the Plains 
take up a significant portion of states such as Colorado, Wyoming, and New Mexico; however 
these places account for a relatively small percentage of places national media relate to the Great 
Plains. As trivial as the source might initially appear, the National Scenic Byways Project—


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