Beth Macy won the J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award, a joint project of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard for "her extraordinary reporting and narrative skills" and her work on Factory Man: How One Furniture Maker Battled Offshoring, Stayed Local - and Helped Save an American Town.
From her Q & A with Neal Thompson for Omnivoracious:
What sparked your initial interest in the story of Bassett Furniture Company?--Marshal Zeringue
I set out initially in late 2011 to write a newspaper series on the aftermath of globalization in Henry County/Martinsville, Va., which had had the highest unemployment rate in the state for a decade. I was inspired by the work of freelance photographer Jared Soares, who’d been documenting what he saw there: textile plant conveyor belts-turned-food pantry delivery devices and the like. Early in my interviews, I heard there was a third-generation furniture maker named John Bassett III who’d singlehandedly bucked the trend and fought China to keep his factory in Galax, Va., going, saving jobs and his family legacy. When I heard he said things like, “The [expletive] Chi-Comms aren’t gonna tell me how to make furniture!” my story Spidey sense went on high alert. He’d done the counterintuitive thing, and he’d done it during a time of huge cultural/economic change. I knew right away his story was BIG, the kind of piece where you could thread together history, economic relevancy and even memoir (I’m the daughter of a displaced factory worker myself).
How did you convince John Bassett III to cooperate and give you access?
Polite persistence and baby steps. He was going to give me 15 minutes of his time the first time we met, but I won him over by being prepared: I knew all about...[read on]