What are Americans like today?” John Steinbeck wanted to know when he started the trip that he later turned into the book Travels with Charley. 50 years later, it is time to ask the same question again and to follow the great US-American writer’s trail.
This is a multimedia-reporting project. From August to November 2008, a group of international reporters will travel the United States to draw a profile of the USA in the election year. News is provided multilingual in a blog, in print articles, photos, interactive maps, audio-slideshows and/or video, depending on the demands of the media-organisations.
The tour investigates the key issues of these elections – immigration, health care, environment, crime, private possession of firearms and security. It picks up the voices of the men and women in the streets. It will be politics, episodes and anecdotes, a mosaic of stories, an attempt to describe the diversities and contradictions of this nation.
The journey will take us to the battleground states. We will explore the Mexican border and the Bible-Belt. We will compare big city urban areas to old and new suburbia and to the generally declining rural towns of America. We are going to see places hard hit by globalization. There will be excursions to Native American reservations, to places of school shootings and an investigation of the rebuilding process in New Orleans.
Coordinator of the tour is Matthias Bernold, who graduated from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York City in May 2008. Bernold works for the Austrian daily newspaper Wiener Zeitung and for the Austrian weekly Falter.