Along with the natural gas-fueled economic boom in Williston, North Dakota has come a boom in journalism focusing on the place: A Michael Barone column linked here on July 23; a Gail Collins column in the New York Times published July 25; and a long article by Stephen Rodrick in the July 2012 issue of Men's Journal magazine. There was also a feature by E.J. Schultz in the October 31, 2011, issue of Ad Age. Mr. Rodrick's article seems to suggest his piece was inspired by the Ad Age feature.
When I see a relatively obscure place like Williston in a flurry of articles like that I wonder if there was some public relations firm that pitched a bunch of journalists on the idea and orchestrated the coverage. Mr. Barone tells me by email that his column idea popped into his head while he was reading the Washington Post during his morning 20-minutes-on-the-treadmill. Sure enough, there is a July 18 Post article by Steven Mufson reporting from North Dakota that says "In Williston, median home prices have doubled in four years."
Ms. Collins also replied to my query:
I went to North Dakota to gather information on the Senate race there. While I'm in far-flung states I like to try to do more than one thing, and the Williston story seemed interesting. I didn't know about those two pieces you cite but we've had news stories in the Times about the boom there. I guarantee nobody pitched it to me.