The Kalmanovitz Initiative is excited to welcome Amy Goldstein, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist from The Washington Post, as a fellow this year. At the Kalmanovitz Initiative, Amy will be working on her forthcoming book, entitled Janesville: An American Story, which focuses on a small Wisconsin city to explore the effects of the Great Recession.
Since 1987, Goldstein has been a reporter at The Post, most recently covering national social policy issues and other high-profile national stories including health care reform, the Obama administration’s domestic agenda, and effects of the nation’s economic downturn on the social safety net. She spent two years researching Janesville, then returned to The Post a year ago as the lead reporter covering the Affordable Care Act, before resuming work on the book this fall.
“I began this project because I had become obsessed with comprehending the cruel reality that so many people were being discarded as workers and flung out of the middle class as a result of wrenching changes in the U.S economy,” Goldstein said. “When work goes away, I wanted to understand, what does that really do to people and to the place where they live?”
Janesville’s economy sputtered to nearly a halt when what had been the oldest operating U.S. auto plant shut down two days before Christmas in 2008. The closing of this General Motors assembly plant put about 3,000 people out of work and set off a domino effect that caused local suppliers and small businesses to lay off thousands of additional workers in a rapidly sinking economy.
“That’s what I went to Janesville to explore,” Goldstein explained. “I came back with an indelible sense of how this reality of middle-class people slipping steadily downhill has so jarred the American Dream that it is turning our nation’s credo of upward mobility into a giant anachronism. What I want to create for readers is a multi-dimensional portrait of what people do to try to survive this shattering experience – and make sure that no one can say that they don’t know what is happening in America today.”