Thursday, September 17, 2009

What's up with the newfound fascination with Treece, Kansas?

A few days ago, I wrote this blog post about a New York Times story that appeared under the headline, "Welcome to our Town. Wish We Weren't Here." I had read the story online the night before it appeared in the paper edition, and I was surprised to see it on the front page the next day. Must have been a slow news day, I thought.

That, or perhaps the NYT editors knew what they were doing. I say that now because it turns out that the story about Treece was one of the five most emailed features in the paper all week. (I know this because I'm on an NYT listserv that provides this information.) As I already noted in an addendum to my earlier post about Treece, my blog post about the story also generated enormous traffic to Legal Ruralism. (I know this because the sitemeter shows me that many who visited the site got there by searching for "treece kansas").

So, what's up with this widepread interest in obscure, tiny Treece, Kansas? I doubt that so many people have suddenly become interested in Kansas. After all, it's just another fly-over state that doesn't seem very sexy. I also doubt that so many people have suddenly become interested in the plains, or in mining, or in small towns. So maybe people are interested in the environmental well-being angle that looms so large in the story? Or maybe they're interested in a good tale of apparent injustice--even if it impacts fewer than a coupla' hundred people.

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