April 7, 2009

Msnbc.com has launched “The Elkhart Project,” a special editorial initiative that will tell the story of the nation’s economic crisis through the residents of Elkhart, Ind.  The Elkhart Project (http://elkhartproject.msnbc.com) is a sustained and in-depth approach to covering the worst American financial crisis since the Great Depression.  Msnbc.com and NBC News will document the personal stories of struggle and survival in this small Midwestern city where the recession has hit hard.

Elkhart, which once enjoyed a thriving recreational vehicle production industry, is representative of many American manufacturing cities now suffering from a shortage of credit for businesses and individuals, rising unemployment, and a skyrocketing number of foreclosures.  By January 2009, employment in the Elkhart metro area had fallen 9.4 percent from a year earlier, the worst decline in the nation.  Industrial production fell 21.9 percent, also the worst.

“We’re making a commitment to cover this catastrophic national story in a personal and local way,” said Jennifer Sizemore, Editor-In-Chief of msnbc.com.  “That’s why we’ve chosen Elkhart, a place with the highest unemployment rate in the country yet a place with hope for recovery – a place where the president has visited and promised help.”

“The Elkhart Project is smart reporting that will go beyond the numbers and reveal how this unprecedented financial crisis touches everyone,” said Steve Capus, President of NBC News.  “By combining the power of continuing NBC News coverage of the crisis with msnbc.com’s insightful reporting from Elkhart, we’re uniquely positioned to provide viewers with a depth of coverage unmatched in today’s news arena.”

The site’s original journalism and comprehensive on-the-ground reporting from Elkhart will be combined with exclusive multimedia features, interactive maps, and video from NBC News and MSNBC Cable.  Msnbc.com has joined with Moody’s Economy.com to create the “Adversity Index” (http://adversity.msnbc.com) that allows consumers to compare and contrast their own cities with Elkhart and to draw connections relevant to them.

Msnbc.com’s journalists will collaborate with The Elkhart Truth, the city’s local newspaper, sharing news gathering resources to broaden and deepen its coverage.

“From investigative reports to interactive tools, we’ll leverage traditional journalism and the full power of our platform to let our readers follow this city’s journey from recession to recovery,” added Sizemore.  “Together with NBC News and The Elkhart Truth, we believe this project will help us all to better understand and cope in this time of crisis.”

Consumers can find the latest stories, useful tools and updates about The Elkhart Project at http://elkhartproject.msnbc.com.  Users are encouraged to engage, connect and participate in msnbc.com’s Elkhart Project by sharing thoughts, ideas, and solutions through Newsvine (http://elkhartproject.newsvine.com), Twitter (twitter.com/msnbc_elkhart) or Facebook (http://elkhartproject.com/facebook).

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