Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles--The Atlantic and American Public Media's Marketplace today announced a new joint reporting project, "American Futures," that will take their journalists on a cross-country trip to document the dramatic economic, technological, cultural, and social changes under way in small towns and cities across the nation. By adapting the long-standing American tradition of discovering the country through an extended coast-to-coast journey, and applying sophisticated mapping technology from the software company Esri, the reporting initiative will showcase the people, communities, companies, and trends that are emerging out of the past decade's economic, technological, and demographic disruption.
James Fallows, national correspondent for The Atlantic and a pilot, and his wife, the linguist and author Deborah Fallows, will travel from one small-town airport to the next in their propeller-driven Cirrus SR-22 airplane, spending time in towns and cities that mainstream news coverage often overlooks. Kai Ryssdal, host and senior editor of Marketplace, and his team will report from various legs of the trip.
Among the topics the project will explore are:
- The ways immigration is transforming communities across the American interior;
- How shifts in world markets for food and energy have changed opportunities in America's farmland;
- How both new and established businesses have found ways to serve global customers from small towns; and
- How certain cities have made themselves centers of innovation and livability.
"American Futures" launches today on a special destination on TheAtlantic.com, with ongoing segments to air on Marketplace, heard on public radio stations nationwide, and to appear on marketplace.org, beginning September 2. The Atlantic magazine will also have coverage of the journey. The trip kicks off in Holland, Michigan, a site of traditional American manufacturing and exporting strength, and stops in the coming weeks will include South Dakota, Wyoming, Missouri, and Indiana, with many more across the country to be announced as the expedition unfolds.
The Atlantic and Marketplace have partnered with Esri, a leader in mapping technology, to add a powerful visual component to "American Futures." Esri's technology will enrich the reporting initiative with a collection of interactive maps that merge real-time statistics, demographic information, text, pictures, audio, and video.
"During our years of living outside the United States, Deb and I have always learned a lot by getting on a bus or train and reporting what we find as we travel across a place," James Fallows said. "There is a long and honored American tradition of similar voyages of discovery. Every time we've made a 'road trip by air,' we've been fascinated to spend time in places that are far from interstates or big cities but have their own small airports as connections to the world. With the help of Esri's innovative software for planning and recording our trip, and with Marketplace as the ideal partner for chronicling changes in the fabric of America's commercial and cultural life, we're excited to update an American reportorial tradition with new explanatory tools."
"There are stories to be told in America that have to be sought out--that have to be found and discovered--before they can be told. That's what this project is about. Jim and Deb Fallows's idea of teaming with Esri to find those stories from the air and then explain them on the ground is a perfect fit for Marketplace. It's a great chance to use technology and creativity to help our readers and listeners understand the way our economy and society are changing," said Ryssdal.
Siemens is the exclusive launch sponsor of "American Futures" across The Atlantic's digital platforms.