100 Days in Appalachia, the nonprofit digital news outlet incubated at the West Virginia University Reed College of Media Innovation Center, has been named a 2021 recipient of a prestigious Edward R. Murrow Award. The publication was honored in the hard news category for its coverage of the rise of domestic extremism in the region and beyond.
“On day 100 of our initial pop-up publication, we watched as the national media flocked to Pikeville, Kentucky, to report on the white nationalist groups who had gathered, months before the tragedy at Charlottesville,” said Dana Coester, a professor in the West Virginia University Reed College of Media and editor in chief for 100 Days in Appalachia. “That day we decided to commit to covering this topic in our region and beyond through the important cultural and contextual lens that no one else could provide. This work is at the center of who we would become as a news outlet and we are proud it has sustained itself well beyond that initial commitment of 100 days.”
That commitment, Coester said, has included thousands of hours of research and reporting from the publication’s team of journalists and editors and in-depth training for journalists across the country who cover this topic on a local and regional level.
Among that team of 100 Days journalists is Report for America corps member Chris Jones whose series of stories titled “Framing Domestic Extremism in Appalachia and Beyond” was the Murrow Award recipient. The Edward R. Murrow Awards were established in 1971 by the Radio Television Digital News Association to honor outstanding achievements in broadcast and digital journalism. The 100 Days winning submission included the following stories:
- Who watches the polls? W.Va. election officials dismiss federal concerns over threat of domestic extremism;
- What is QAnon and why does your aunt keep posting about it on Facebook?
- and National media want you to believe Antifa and Boogaloo are ‘two sides of the same coin.’ Here’s why they’re not.
Jones is in his second year reporting on the topic for 100 Days and is currently helping to lead the creation of an innovative training program for other local journalists who are reporting on domestic extremism. He is a United States Marine Corps veteran who served four years
in the infantry and as a machine gun squad leader in Afghanistan. He has also worked
as an EMT in Pittsburgh and most recently as a freelance photojournalist based
in Brooklyn, New York. Since 2015, he’s covered the war in Afghanistan as well
as political and breaking news coverage in the United States. His work has appeared
in The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today and The Village Voice.
“I appreciate the opportunity to do this work at 100 Days,” Jones said, adding that it has been a long-term effort as part of a close-knit team.
“100 Days has been committed to shedding light on this issue for years, but adding Chris to our team has increased our capacity and the depth of coverage we’re capable of,” Coester said. “Not only is he an accomplished journalist, but he brings a wealth of life experiences and a perspective as a veteran that deeply informs his expertise on this topic.”
100 Days in Appalachia, which was founded with support from West Virginia Public Broadcasting and The Daily Yonder of the Center for Rural Strategies in Eastern Kentucky, covers national issues through an Appalachian lens. The organization has received nearly $1 million in funding since its founding, and the recent Murrow Award is one in a long list of accolades that include being selected for the Poynter Table Stakes Program and being awarded a Report for America position.
100 Days was successfully incubated in the WVU Media Innovation Center and is currently completing a transition to independent financial sustainability as a nonprofit news organization. It is one of the first digital startups of its size to participate in Poynter Table Stakes program, a competitive local news program that includes online group seminars, personalized coaching and peer network support to help newsrooms evolve, reach new audiences and better engage their communities.
To learn more about 100 Days in Appalachia, visit www.100daysinappalachia.com.