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Unseen America

Four Stories From the Misunderstood Middle of Our Nation 

Postcard Unseen America Final

Introduction: The Right Road Lost

By Ted Genoways

Pacific Standard sent five freelance reporters, most of whom grew up and still live away from the coastal media centers, to expose some of the struggles and challenges being faced by the misunderstood middle of the country, shining a spotlight on the people and places that are often left out of the political conversation.

Portrait of Berenise, age 17, at her home in Hidalgo County, Texas.

The Young Hands That Feed Us

By Karen Coates & Valeria Fernández

In the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, undocumented immigrants from Mexico and other parts of Latin America work in farm fields, with their children often pressed into labor to help the family make ends meet. In the shadow of detention camps where asylum-seeking children are separated from their parents and detained for political gain, these American-born children of immigrants also live in poverty and at risk, picking America's food.

Cody-Kilgore School (Vaughan)

Educational Fight or Flight

By Carson Vaughan

At rural public schools, educators are doing everything they can to keep their doors open: running on a four-day school week, recruiting students from other districts, lobbying teachers from other schools, dispatching bus drivers farther and farther away. At Cody-Kilgore High School in the remote Sandhills of western Nebraska, teachers have even opened a student-run grocery store to provide practical business training and keep the town alive. But is it enough?

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    Losing the News

    By Brent Cunningham

    For more than a century, the family-owned Charleston Gazette prided itself on being West Virginia's newsprint watchdog, going after the coal industry and the corruption and environmental abuse that accumulated in its wake. Following a merger with another local paper, the Charleston Gazette-Mail won a Pulitzer Prize for its reporting on the opioid epidemic. But less than a year later, the paper filed for bankruptcy—and was bought by an aspiring politician with ties to fossil fuels. Will the paper, under this new ownership, continue to fulfill its role as a community watchdog?


    Searching for Savanna

    By Mona Gable

    She was 22 years old, eight months pregnant, and no one had heard from Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind for five days. When police broke into the apartment of the couple who lived upstairs from her, they found a newborn baby girl. Soon after, they found Savanna's body. Native women like Savanna are murdered at more than 10 times the national average, yet there is no comprehensive database for tracking their cases. Savanna's Act, introduced to Congress earlier this year, would change that.

    Postcard Unseen America Final

    Unseen America: Further Reading

    The contributors to Unseen America recommend some honest, accurate accounts of the challenges and opportunities facing the  midsection of America.

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