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WVU’s 100 Days in Appalachia to expand academic platform, improve national coverage of region

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Ashton Marra, Digital Managing Editor of 100 Days in Appalachia, meets with colleagues.

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West Virginia University will offer new cross-disciplinary courses that are working areas of Appalachian identity, history and culture and provide faculty training in new media technology through a grant awarded to 100 Days in Appalachia, a media outlet incubated at the Reed College of Media’s Media Innovation Center.

The $250,000 Andrew W. Mellon grant will support the integration of 100 Days into the curriculum at WVU and engage students and faculty from journalism, English, history, linguistics, folklore, cultural geography, religion and other disciplines, eventually laying the groundwork for a potential new major in social documentary storytelling.

A Facebook Journalism Project Community Network grant, awarded in partnership with the Lenfest Institute for Journalism, aims to help improve national coverage of the region, particularly during the 2020 election cycle, as heavy coverage of a region previously dubbed “Trump country” is anticipated. 

“Our goal is to provide resources to national and international media outlets who often continue to portray the region in simplistic ways,” said associate professor Dana Coester, the creative director and executive editor of 100 Days. “While we have built new networks and collaborations between our region and the rest of the world since we launched in 2016, we still have work to do to ensure Appalachian voices are included in national conversations.”

The funds will support a pilot network of context editors who will advise reporters covering the region using community-vetted content that does not perpetuate stereotypes about Appalachia. Community members will also be trained in topics like news judgment, fact-checking, photo editing and media law and ethics to engage the region’s residents in the decision-making processes of journalism. This advisory community will provide context for reporters and editors at local, regional, national and international media outlets to prevent the extractive storytelling that was experienced during the 2016 presidential race.

The FJP grant, which will include a database of Appalachian reporters, editors, photographers and videographers available for hire by national outlets, will also be used to produce a toolkit with guidelines on how – and how not to – cover the region during the upcoming election.

100 Days was among 23 inaugural recipients of the FJP Community Network grant. The digital publication is a collaboration with West Virginia Public Broadcasting and The Daily Yonder, of the Center for Rural Strategies.

These grants were made in conjunction with the  WVU Foundation, the nonprofit corporation that generates and provides support for West Virginia University.



CONTACT: Erica Lindsay
WVU Reed College of Media

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