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100 Days in Appalachia to host Mellon Workshop Series

Ashton Marra Teaches

A new workshop series encourages participants from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds to come together and learn innovative techniques for creating robust stories about the Appalachian region.

100 Days in Appalachia, a nonprofit, national news outlet incubated at the West Virginia University  Reed College of Media, recently received an Andrew W. Mellon grant that will support the workshop series and a new full-time practitioner-in-residence who will help increase 100 Days’ presence on campus and integration into curriculum at WVU.  

100 Days launched in January 2017 to combat stereotypes in the first few months of the Trump administration and has since earned a reputation as a go-to source for real stories by the journalists and community members living in Appalachia. In addition to becoming a national news outlet that is changing the way our country perceives Appalachia, 100 Days is a teaching platform that experiments with new community engagement and storytelling techniques.

During the two-hour, hands-on workshops, College of Media faculty will explain some of these innovative digital storytelling methods so that participants can use them to better share their particular expertise and knowledge of Appalachia with a national audience or in a classroom. Attendees will also have the opportunity to contribute to the open-sourced, co-publishing model of 100 Days. Workshop topics include: Short Stories for Social Media, Visualizing Data, Podcasting, Web Development 101, Interactive Media, Immersive Storytelling, Digital Oral Histories and Non-Fiction Multimedia Storytelling/Script Writing.

“The goal of this project is to address social issues in a more creative way, building relationships and bridging divides between disciplines within the University as well as between the University and the community,” said Joel Beeson , associate professor and principal on the Mellon grant. “We’re furthering WVU’s land grant mission by collaborating with community members and making the research public-facing, and by engaging with humanities scholars to gain a deeper understanding of the issues that affect the Appalachian region.”

In addition to funding the workshop series, the Mellon grant has enabled the College to hire Jesse Wright as the full-time practitioner-in-residence. Wright, who previously worked as the news director for West Virginia Public Broadcasting, will lead the development of a new cross-disciplinary social documentary storytelling program. He will build on existing partnerships and recruit faculty from selected humanities departments to develop the new curriculum.

“Storytelling is important to every discipline,” said Dana Coester , associate professor and editor and chief of 100 Days. “The workshop series enables our larger university community to learn together and work together to tell deeper stories about our region, and it sets the stage for this uniquely Appalachian documentary film program that convenes ideas, perspectives and storytelling methods from across disciplines at WVU.”

100 Days in Appalachia is a collaboration with  West Virginia Public Broadcasting  (WVPB) and  The Daily Yonder of the Center for Rural Strategies in Kentucky.  

More information about the workshops and registration is available at mediainnovation.wvu.edu/events