As journalists, we work to find the truth and reveal conditions through documentation, but we’re often unintentionally guilty of reinforcing stereotypes. The reasons are far from simple. They range from our internal biases (of which we may not even be aware) to limited newsroom budgets that prevent long-term reportage and the decimation of local news coverage. The gaps are real, and our understanding suffers as a result.
It’s refreshing, then, when projects and initiatives rise to bridge gaps of insight.
One initiative is the Instagram account called EverydayRuralAmerica. (@everydayruralamerica). Its creator, Nicole Craine, 30, is based in Atlanta.
“In 2017, I launched the EverydayRuralAmerica account in light of the 2016 presidential election,” Craine said. “While spending time with my family in Alabama and traveling around the Southeast, I could see the lack of local coverage was unmistakable. News outlets seemed to be overlooking the working-class demographic and rural areas along with much of the Southeastern region.”
“I shared a post on my Instagram account and social media, asking if anyone had any work in and around rural areas to use the hashtag or to send me their work,” said Craine.
Craine is a freelance journalist who attended Savannah College of Art and Design. Originally focused on fine art, she turned to photojournalism in college when she set out to explore the roots of her family living in southern Alabama. The resulting body of work was called Kin Folk.
“I initially started documenting my great-grandmother who lived in Selma, Alabama,” Craine said. “She was living on a property with five generations under one roof.” Kin Folk reflected on personal history and relationships within her family. Craine stayed with family members while working on the project. “When I came back up with this work in college, the response from my professors was positive.”
Kin Folk became her thesis project, and eventually she attended the Eddie Adams Workshop in 2014. There she became, like many others, more exposed to the industry at large.
Craine says that the EverydayRuralAmerica project aims to cover different communities across the United States in and around rural areas. “The goal is to expand viewers’ perceptions of these communities,” Craine said. As the Instagram account gained traction, people started using the #everydayruralamerica hashtag.