Posted in Behind the News

A multiformat view of U.S. political scene

, by Lauren Easton

A staff memo by Chris Sullivan, editor of AP's national reporting team, describes how AP’s presence across the country allowed staffers in all formats to provide a “unique window” into the U.S. political climate ahead of President Donald Trump’s inauguration:

Following in the wake of the Divided America series, the AP wanted to glimpse the country – the multiple Americas, joyous, dreading and uncertain – that Donald Trump would lead as the 45th president. But how to do it in a way that went beyond traditional text and instead gave customers and readers a visually engaging look at the U.S. in the time of Trump? The answer: "Postcards from Trump's America." A specially-selected team of reporters, photographers and videojournalists joined up to report from four distinct corners of the nation, and their work provided a unique window into what Americans are thinking and feeling at this historic pivot point.
This Jan. 10, 2017, photo of Ron Brindle in front of a portrait of Donald Trump hanging on his oil derrick in Huntington Beach, California, is part of the "Postcards from Trump's America" package. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
National writer Adam Geller led the effort, writing one of the four pieces and helping to guide the others. Geller reported from reported from Orange County, California, working with photographer Chris Carlson, who is based there, and videojournalist Gillian Flaccus of Portland to show how demographics and political views are changing in traditional Reagan country. Mike Rubinkam, correspondent in Allentown, Pennsylvania, along with Philadelphia photographer Matt Rourke and Washington-based videojournalist Robert Bumsted, interviewed people in two Pennsylvania counties, one struggling and one booming, about their opposite outlooks for the future. Bill Barrow and photographer David Goldman, both based in Atlanta, examined two neighboring Georgia counties' voters, who illuminated the black-white, urban-rural tensions that Trump will face. Nick Riccardi, based in Denver, and Des Moines, Iowa, photographer Charlie Neibergall traveled to Lancaster County, Nebraska, one of the most evenly divided counties politically in the nation, and met people finding ways to live side-by-side with neighbors who see Trump very differently. The four pieces resulted from a series of planning calls with editors in all formats to craft the elements that all parts would share and the unique themes for each part. With a publishable explanatory note, the “postcards” were designed to be used individually or as a single modular offering. Jaime Holguin, manager of news development for digital news in New York, pulled the parts together into an illuminating, colorful hub for AP News. Play was strong online, and the package got numerous front-page displays, including in local papers in the states featured in the project. One example used six photos from the “postcard” locations on A1. The showcase package – by Geller, Rubinkam, Barrow, Riccardi, Carlson, Rourke, Neibergall, Goldman, Flaccus and Bumsted – wins this week's Best of the States prize.