Vol 1, Issue 6 June, 2019

We'd like to make you aware of a job and fellowship opportunity:

  • The Fellows Program is accepting applications as we seek to hire a new Program Manager. Interested candidates should apply here:
    Program Manager job description

    This is an ideal position for someone familiar with the publishing industry and is able to translate that knowledge into a dynamic role that is part publicist, part content creator, and part event manager. This is a DC-based position.
  • The Logan Nonfiction Program is accepting apps through June 15 for the Fall 2019 Fellowship. The program is open to journalists, documentary filmmakers, podcasters & photojournalists. More at:

Three questions with...
Eliza Griswold, 2010 National Fellow & 2019 Pulitzer Prize Winner

Where did you get the idea to write Amity and Prosperityand how were you introduced to the central characters of the book?

I started thinking about how to write this book while I was in Nigeria in 2007 when I was writing my first book, The Tenth Parallel. While there, I had to get across a river where a bridge had collapsed, so I did what you would do as a journalist, and rode across it in an empty oil barrel. A few weeks before this, Interstate 35W had collapsed in Minneapolis, and I found myself thinking it was time to go back to the United States and to write about our collective poverty. I had been sitting in New America conferences for years, listening to Sherle Schwenninger talk how we don’t invest in infrastructure as Americans. When I returned to the United States, I found out that statistically, the highest number of structurally deficient bridges are in southwestern Pennsylvania. I got the idea to tell the story of a crumbling bridge so I headed out to Pittsburgh to begin reporting. While there, I met Stacey Haney, the woman at the center of what was to become Amity and Prosperity.

Your other projects stand in sharp contrast to Amity and Prosperity, so was there anything in particular that led to your transition from writing about foreign affairs and religion to domestic and environmental issues?

Two things stand out to me. First, I’ve long been interested in how environmental concerns cause conflict. When I wrote The Tenth Parallel, I posited that what’s driving the conflict between Christians and Muslims along the literal 10th parallel is climate change. With that in mind, I wanted to better understand how rural Americans have paid for the energy appetites of urban Americans. How do these quiet stories that undergird so much of what’s going on really come into play? Second, I think reporting on America is often overlooked. We don’t do it. We’ve gotten better at it now since the election of President Trump created a huge shock to the system. However, I was in what we call “Trump country” years before CNN showed up in my Hilton Garden Inn. To suddenly watch the places where I’ve been reporting from for so long become the subject of national interest was curious to me and I wanted to explore that as well.

Given that the book encompasses seven years of reporting, what was your process for completing it and how did you manage your deadlines without knowing how long it would take you to complete the book?

I never would've been able to do it without the Fellowship grant from New America. This kind of immersion reporting is expensive. I made about 37 trips to the region over those seven years, and I tried to keep myself accountable to a reporting schedule that took me down there for a week every couple of months. I also wouldn’t say that I managed my deadlines—I just blew deadline after deadline over a series of years. This story just took a really long time. My fantasy after writing The Tenth Parallel, a book that had taken seven years to write, and 10 thousand miles of travel over two continents, and 10 countries, was that I would be able to find a little town, be able to write about what happened there, and that that would be much easier. It turned out to be even more complicated to write about these little towns of Amity and Prosperity than writing about a line of latitude that wraps around the entire globe. That was humbling.

Two Cents

What's the best advice another writer ever gave you?

1: "If you have a great story, write it every six months." From my father, the Washington Post education reporter Jay Mathews. — Joe Mathews, Class of 2011

2: When trying to recreate scenes, steer far away from any quotes that aren’t dialogue. It breaks the plane you’re trying to create. — Melissa Segura, Class of 2019

3: Before moving from one book to another book, experiment with form and genre. Write a few essays. Take a break from books and develop your creative writing skills. — Marcia Chatelain, Class of 2017

Two Cents

Suki Kim was awarded a 2019 Berlin Prize Fellowship which she will spend to work on The Portrait of Complicity, an investigative nonfiction book on war and its transgenerational consequences.

Jonathan M. Katz launched The Long Version, a newsletter covering conflict, disaster, climate, politics, and foreign policy.

Patrick Radden Keefe’s book, Say Nothing: A True Story Of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland, was longlisted for the 2019 Orwell Prize for Political Writing.

Sarah J. Jackson accepted a Presidential Associate Professorship at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication.

Joshua Geltzer co-authored an article in Slate about William Barr and national security.

Two Cents
Go To This

The top 4 New America events we recommend you check out. Now.



The Feeling of Being Watched

Join Assia Boundaoui, Class of 2019, in NYC for the Social Cinema@New America screening of her new film, The Feeling of Being Watched. Learn More


Rice: The Changing Nature of the World's Most Important Food

A discussion with Lisa Hamilton, Class of 2019, James Beard Award-winning Chef JJ Johnson, and New York Times Food Reporter Julia Moskin as they discuss the unique nature of rice culture around the world. Learn More


Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland

Join the Fellows Program at Solid State Books as we host New York Times bestselling author, Patrick Radden Keefe, Class of 2017, for a conversation about the violence and aftermath of Northern Ireland’s most complicated chapters of history. Learn More


Amity and Prosperity: One Family and the Fracturing of America

Join the Fellows Program at Solid State Book as we host Pulitzer Prize-winning author Eliza Griswold, Class of 2010, for a conversation about her book examining the environmental and societal impact of the energy industry. Learn More

Reading this month

A beautiful series of Cole's essays and criticism, operating at his self-aware, deeply perceptive best.
 Sara Hendren, Class of 2018

Learn More

A fabulous investigation behind Linda Taylor, the woman thought to be the origin of the welfare queen myth. A white woman pretending to be a black woman committing fraud changed the course of social policy for decades. 
— Marcia Chatelain, Class of 2017

Learn More

This book is overflowing with big ideas about how to think about the emergence of Internet technologies as part of a fundamental economic revolution. 
— Joshua Geltzer, Class of 2018

Learn More

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