We began the Yonder in 2007 because nobody else was doing the job of telling the news of rural America. It was coming up on a Presidential election year and we figured without some effort rural places would just disappear from the picture. It seemed like a unique time and a particularly important election.
Need I remind you of the day and the hour? Again, I wonder if the coming 12 months will have anything like a debate about rural America.
Oh, of course, there will be all kinds of blather about rural voters this and rural voters that. Some of the talk will be accurate. Most of it will be stitched together out of stereotypes and prejudice. And hardly any of it will address what is really happening across rural America.
At least that is what experience tells us. We recall Nobel-winning economist Paul Krugman writing a few years ago about the “fact” that rural America received more money from the federal government than urban areas. But the Yonder reported more than 10 years ago on a government study finding that federal spending per person was higher in the cities.
Our communities are anything but predictable. Just a few weeks ago, for example, Kentucky’s Democratic governor, running for re-election, won a swath of counties in the eastern portion of the state. In 2020 these places had voted heavily Republican. But it was an area that had been badly flooded more than a year before and the governor, Andy Beshear, had spent a lot of time there working on repairing the damage. The counties were now blue. You could see it there on the maps published in the Yonder.
Over the next year, the Yonder will provide this kind of story. It will tell exactly who is winning in different rural regions and it will explain why. You will be able to see how your county voted and you will be able to compare your community to others. And the Yonder will tell you what the candidates are saying – or not saying – about our piece of the country.
The Yonder keeps getting better. A whole new generation of writers and researchers are adding music, interviews, news and insights. Every day is a surprise. Every day I learn. My eyes open a little wider.
Like many good things, however, bringing news of rural America to the world is a do-it-yourself enterprise. No one else is going to pick up this job should the Yonder disappear. We either do it ourselves or it simply won’t get done.
Founding Editor of the Daily Yonder
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