AP journalists took readers deep into the heart of conservative America, with an up-close, unflinching portrait of residents of a small town who reject caricatures that paint them as gun-toting extremists, despite their sometimes shocking views on the future of democracy.
The roots of the story go back a year, when Sullivan and Goldman reported on a rural Minnesota county and how the local newspaper had become the focus of warring visions of American life. Again and again during the reporting, conservatives told them about their sometimes near-apocalyptic views of America, and how they saw the government as deeply authoritarian.
Sullivan set out to find a place to write a story focusing on how views that had once been on the far right fringes of the Republican Party had become relatively common. He spent hours doing phone interviews in various cities, trying to figure out where he could go spend a week. But the difficulty getting people to open up convinced him that one trip wouldn’t be enough. He spent months, between other assignments, going back and forth to Wisconsin’s St. Croix County where the distrust of the media was overwhelming.
Goldman accompanied Tim twice, capturing residents in their homes and around the towns in both photos and video. The resulting photos, video and text invite readers on a journey through a part of the country they may not often see depicted in mainstream media. The story resonated with customers and readers, garnering nearly 250,000 page views on AP platforms.