The week before the election, I tried to assign a piece about how Texas had a decent chance of turning purple in 2016. One Austin-based writer I reached out to, Andrea Grimes, gently cautioned me about going all in on this premise. “Hate to be the Debbiest Downer,” she wrote, but “very few people in Texas are actually working on making this place a swing state.” Grimes warned me that despite the polls, conservatives still had deep influence in virtually every county.
She turned out to be more right than any of us could have imagined. One by one, states that once seemed within Democrats’ reach went to Trump: Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Ohio. States projected to possibly become political battlegrounds like Georgia, Arizona, and, of course, Texas, remained red. In the election’s aftermath, the internet was littered with self-flagellating think pieces about What The Media Got Wrong. In a Politico roundup on the topic, Univision’s Isaac Lee, who also oversees Fusion Media Group, replied that journalists “have too often been holed up in elite areas of New York, Washington, Palo Alto, Miami, or LA.” Everyone seemed to agree: It’s time we got out of the bubble.
I began to notice job postings for itinerant reporters, ones who would be tasked with investigating “Trump’s America” but based in those same media-hub cities where, for the record, Fusion is also based. These jobs are a start, but seem to me like an incomplete solution. I thought back to Grimes, who’d politely told me my election assignment was bullshit. We’re not the experts; the writers on the ground are. Read more.