90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
Losing Faith In Almost Everything

We go to famed Middletown, USA — Muncie, Indiana– for a portrait of tough times and Americans checking out of faith in almost everything.

An American flag is seen through rain drops on a window as rain falls in Baltimore, Sunday, April 22, 2012. (AP)

An American flag is seen through rain drops on a window as rain falls in Baltimore, Sunday, April 22, 2012. (AP)

Muncie, Indiana has been under the microscope of American sociologists for the better part of a century now. Middletown, USA. The archetype. The tuning fork. Know Muncie and you know the land, was the idea.

Well, if that’s true, two big reporters now say, we are in trouble – or, at least ready for some major change. They’ve gone back to Muncie and found Americans giving up on just about everything. Banks, schools, city hall, church. “In Nothing We Trust” is their headline. Wooph!

This hour, On Point: When it all falls down. We’re going back to Muncie.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Ron Fournier, editor-in-chief of the National Journal Group. His latest article with Sophie Quinton is In Nothing We Trust.

Sophie Quinton, staff reporter at the National Journal.

From Tom’s Reading List

National Journal “Johnny Whitmire shuts off his lawn mower and takes a long draw from a water bottle. He sloshes the liquid from cheek to cheek and squirts it between his work boots. He is sweating through his white T-shirt. His jeans are dirty. His middle-aged back hurts like hell. But the calf-high grass is cut, and the weeds are tamed at 1900 W. 10th St., a house that Whitmire and his family once called home. “I’ve decided to keep the place up,” he says, “because I hope to buy it back from the bank.””

Salon “Fournier and Quinton’s piece goes on to describe the decline in various Muncie institutions: the mainline Protestant church dying as a corporate-inspired Megachurch thrives outside of town, some local government scandal involving improperly cast absentee ballots and an arrogant one-term mayor.”

Reason “But none of this addresses the core argument of this wrist-cutter of a journalistic endeavor: Americans are losing faith in the institutions that made this country great.”

American Radio Works “Robert and Helen Lynd published their groundbreaking study of an ordinary American community they called “Middletown” in 1929. “Middletown” is actually Muncie, Indiana, and over the years many other researchers have returned to study the people who live there.”

Video: Virtual Middletown

The Virtual Middletown Project at Ball State University brings to life the 1929 and 1937 Lynd Study of Middletown America through the virtual world of Blue Mars. This prototype recreates elements of industrial life from that period, specifically the Ball Glass Factory.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
Sep 19, 2014
No campaigners celebrate as results come in at the Scottish independence referendum count at the Royal Highland Centre in Edinburgh,Scotland,Friday, Sept. 19, 2014. Scottish voters have rejected independence and decided that Scotland will remain part of the United Kingdom. The result announced early Friday was the one favored by Britain's political leaders, who had campaigned hard in recent weeks to convince Scottish voters to stay. It dashed many Scots' hopes of breaking free and building their own nation. (AP Photo/David Cheskin)

ISIS and arming Syrian fighters. Scotland rejects independence. NFL turmoil. US troops and Ebola. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

Sep 19, 2014
Joseph O'Neill (courtesy of the author)

Author of “Netherland,” novelist Joseph O’Neill is back, with “The Dog,” on globalization, capitalism, and self-discovery in Dubai.

RECENT
SHOWS
Sep 18, 2014
(Flickr/AisleTwentytwo)

Billionaires. We’ll look at the super super rich, and their global shaping of our world.

 
Sep 18, 2014
Flickr/Steve Rhodes

After a summer of deadly clashes between Gaza and Israel, we talk to Jews on the left and right about the future of liberal Zionism. Some say it’s over.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Our Week In The Web: September 19, 2014
Friday, Sep 19, 2014

Lots of big, contentious topics on the show this week — from Zionism to early education, corporal punishment to development in the Grand Canyon.

More »
Comment
 
Talking Through The Issue Of Corporal Punishment For Kids
Wednesday, Sep 17, 2014

On Point dove into the debate over corporal punishment on Wednesday — as Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson faces charges in Texas after he allegedly hit his four-year-old son with a switch.

More »
2 Comments
 
Our Week In The Web: September 12, 2014
Friday, Sep 12, 2014

In which you had varied reactions to the prospect of a robotic spouse.

More »
Comment