Off the Highway – Voters in Middle America is a series launched by the News Center after the election of President Donald Trump: it illustrates diversity in the U.S. by highlighting the perspectives and voices of residents in small town and rural America. VOA reporters traveled to a stretch of rural counties along the upper Mississippi River in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Iowa. They drew on interviews with voters in these counties to explain why locals turned from supporting the Democratic Party candidate Barack Obama in previous elections to the Republican Donald Trump in 2016. The series combines beautiful footage with a compassionate listening style to eloquently convey the views of those who felt they were among the “forgotten men and women” that Trump promised to champion.
The series provides a window into differences in American culture and lifestyles which can be difficult for those in other countries to understand. It is also timely amid anti-U.S. propaganda and Russian disinformation that tries to create an image of a dysfunctional America. It became the Bronze medal winner at the New York Film Festival after it was versioned into 12 languages and garnered tens of thousands of engagements on social media.
Reporting: Deepak Dobhal, Greg Flakus, Heather Murdock
Camera and Video Production: Deepak Dobhal
Web Production: Brian Williamson
Additional Video Production: Kimberlyn Weeks, Bezhan Hamdard
Editing: Elizabeth Arrott, David Jones
Social Media: Stephanie Tu and the News Center Social Media Team
Research: Lynn Davis