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Road Trip: Journalist Travels to Swing States for Independent Reporting Project

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Road Trip: Journalist Travels to Swing States for Independent Reporting Project

Article excerpt

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

As many journalists head out on assignment for this year's presidential election, freelance journalist Chris Killian is embarking on his own expedition--visiting 11 swing states and reporting the stories of everyday Americans in a project called Swing State Stories (swingstatestories.com).

The 33-year-old Kalamazoo, Mich., resident has been a journalist for almost eight years, freelancing at the daily Kalamazoo Gazette and the now-defunct Michigan Messenger.

Killian said he started Swing State Stories because he felt coverage of the presidential election was filled with "talking heads" and "negative campaign ads.

"The election should be about people," he said. Traveling the entire country solo wasn't financially feasible, so he chose to focus on the swing states, because "they are going to decide who is president."

Killian set off on his road trip at the end of August, driving a 1984 Volkswagen Vanagon camper, which he named Harry after his grandfather. He spent part of the summer and some of his savings fixing up the van. Killian's first stop was Nevada, then Colorado, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Virginia, North Carolina, and finally Florida in early November. He said he plans to stay in each state five to six days.

In July, he launched a Kickstarter fundraising campaign seeking $2,500 to cover gas, a video camera, and food. A month later, he had almost $4,500 in donations, thanks to national attention from other journalists and media blogs. Killian said to see this amount of support from friends and total strangers told him "there was a lot of interest to get this type of story done. …

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