A few years ago, I was at a gathering in Colorado with journalists and civic leaders interested in exploring solutions. We discussed shared concerns across the Mountain West region, including housing.
An attendee leaned over at one point and said, “Do you notice that when we talk about housing with other journalists, no one ever brings up trailers?” It turned out we both grew up in rural areas and spent time with friends and family members who lived in trailers, also called mobile homes. Nothing about recalling those experiences dredged up negative thoughts about those homes and neighborhoods. And from my work covering rural communities, I know lots of folks find trailers an affordable housing solution, despite some challenges if you don’t own the land where you set up your home.
Along with mobile homes, I rarely see stories about manufactured homes, which are built off-site and shipped to different locations. It makes sense that if you don’t know anyone who lives in a trailer or manufactured home, it doesn’t come to mind when considering potential stories. What surprised me as I reflected more on this is that over time, I myself had developed an unconscious disregard for trailers. During story planning meetings I never brought up trailers, either.
Not every journalist has a blind spot about mobile homes. But it’s a fair bet that many do, by virtue of their limited exposure to those communities. I often hear comments from journalists that signal to me they have other blind spots about covering poverty.
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