LETTER SUBMITTED TO A REPORTER AT A FLORIDA NEWSPAPER

Dr. Mike Davis


Some of the excerpts and pictures were sensational images utilized
to show poverty and despair among the residents of Beattyville - Dr. Mike Davis

Ms. Barlow: A recent article in the Northwest Florida Daily News expressed how Destin Nation Mission (DNM) provided support and services for some destitute families who reside in the hills of Appalachia, and more specifically families from Beattyville, Kentucky were a focus of the report.

I would like to share a few thoughts with your paper regarding the DNM article. 1) I appreciate the concern displayed and the personal actions demonstrated to help those particular needy families in Appalachia; and 2) It is impressive to have civic groups and mission groups become more involved with helping others in rural and urban areas; but I am also disappointed with the negative narrative and misleading story theme.

More specifically, the article utilizes sensational language to draw attention to the story of poverty in Appalachia which only serves to promote the negative bias and stereotypes that already exist in the media. Did anyone from the DNM spend time learning about the culture of Appalachia, did they visit any special entities and venues that display the positive and successful aspects of Appalachia? Did anyone from the DNM spend any time getting to know any of the thousands and thousands of educated and successful working middle class Appalachian people?

Some of the excerpts and pictures were sensational images utilized to show poverty and despair among the residents of Beattyville, such as "Many of the areas are struggling with unemployment, teen pregnancy, substance abuse and high school dropouts", which could also be said about inner city ghettos and urban areas all across America. Also, the quote, "They told us they know they look and smell unkempt because their families do not have the money for much other than food" was again sensationalized to make the DNM story gain sympathetic readers to say, "Ah, those poor people" and "Oh, what great works by DNM".

Again, I am pleased that outside groups and mission workers want to show compassion, but I think they also need to take the time when in the area to experience some of the best features of Appalachia, some of the best activities of Appalachia, and to develop a better understanding of the social and economic circumstances that cause many to live in poverty, whether they be residents of rural or urban areas in America.

DNM is most welcome to continue their good works within Appalachia, but I strongly urge them to enjoy Appalachia and take back home with them a sense of satisfaction for services rendered, but also take back home with them a new level of understanding and appreciation for the special and unique Appalachian culture.

Respectfully submitted, Dr. James M. Davis

 

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