The Atlantic Announces the Expansion of “Our Towns,” James and Deborah Fallows’s 100,000 Mile Journey into the Heart of America

Cross-country reporting project relaunches today, with support from Grow with Google

April 25, 2019 (Washington, D.C.)—Since 2013, The Atlantic’s national correspondent James Fallows and linguist and writer Deborah Fallows have been crisscrossing the country, in a plane piloted by James, to report on how small cities and towns across America are faring and thriving. Today begins the next phase of their journey with the launch of “Our Towns,” a reporting project that will see the couple continue their 100,000 mile journalistic feat into the heart of America, underwritten by Grow with Google.

The Fallowses will document their travels at with weekly reporting dispatches continuing through the end of the year. The first stop is Indiana, with visits to Angola, Muncie, Indianapolis, and Fort Wayne, and throughout the year they will touch down their single-engine prop plane in dozens of other towns and cities. Reporting will appear across all platforms at The Atlantic.

“The guiding principle of this reporting will be the one we developed—city by city, story by story, surprise by surprise—through our preceding years of travel,” James Fallows writes in a letter to readers introducing the project. “The central premise is that the most positive and practical developments in this stage of American life are happening at the local and regional level—but that most Americans have barely heard of those developments except in the communities where they themselves live.”

A 40-plus year veteran of The Atlantic, Mr. Fallows has lived and worked in Shanghai, Beijing, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Sydney, Washington, Austin, Berkeley, and Seattle. He wrote his first piece for the magazine in December 1974, joined its staff in 1979, and has authored nearly 100 cover stories in the decades since. In 2013, James and Deborah, who is a fellow at New America, took to the skies. Their immersive reporting project for The Atlantic, American Futures, became the best-selling book Our Towns in 2018, and is the basis of a forthcoming HBO documentary.

Through their work, the Fallowses have spoken with countless community leaders and local residents on the importance of community investment, and how to retain talent and foster economic growth. With the launch of “Our Towns,” their reporting will continue to provide a fresh perspective on local progress and innovation. Since 2016, Grow with Google has helped people across the U.S. get the skills they need to grow their careers and businesses. In 2019, the program is bringing digital literacy workshops to towns across the country, amplifying learning opportunities for local citizens.

In addition to the editorial elements, the project will also encompass every business at The Atlantic, spanning custom, syndicated, and branded content, including work from Re:think, The Atlantic’s award-winning creative studio.


Media Contact

Helen Tobin