Although called Research Fatigue, distrust in researchers and other outsiders can also be increased by media portrayal of energy impacted-communities. Here are some examples of community responses when asked to describe their towns:

Local Government Representative, McKenzie County

Interviewer: If you had to describe Watford City to someone who has never been here before how would you go about describing it?

R: I would describe it as a little hidden gem. Some of the state and national media has kind of given us a bad rap out here. They have blown certain things that have happened during the oil expansion phase way out of proportion. And we were never as bad off as some of the larger newspapers in the state might want to try to make it seem like. But that being said, we have caught up in many ways to make our town much more livable than it was there for a few years. Watford City was always a very nice small town of let’s say 2,000 people or something. Now we’re a very nice town of 7,500 people. And there was a couple year stretch in there that obviously if you're going almost quadruple your population, you’re going to have some struggles. And there were some struggles. We made it through it, and we’ve come out basically exactly where we wanted to.

Western North Dakota Resident

I was born and grew up in North Dakota, on the eastern side. You can't explain it to (people) unless they see it. Williston, the outside of Williston, even where I grew up in southeast North Dakota, has always been viewed as the end of the Earth. And if it isn't the end of the Earth, you can see it from there!

And there's people that have always made one-off comments to me, even family members, ‘Oh my gosh how can you live out there? We hear it’s like the Wild West. And there’s people getting shot on the streets.’ And it’s like it’s not like that all. I mean, I would raise – we’re raising a family here. I have no qualms about that. It’s like any community, if you want to find trouble you can find it anywhere. If you want to stay out until 2 in the morning at bar and run your mouth, you’re going to find trouble. You can find that anywhere. It’s that way in the town where I grew up. It’s really no different here.

Who Gets Researched the Most?


Kris Smith and Julia Haggerty talk about which members of a community may be disproportionately contacted for data and information. (video length: 2:51)