Articles

New AIR documentary site creates journalist-community collaborations in real time

 

Localore Finding America documentary

BOSTON — AIR and Localore: Finding America released an open-source, multimedia documentary at noon today that connects the conversations of neighborhoods across the country. As daily coverage of the presidential election shapes our attention and sense of the nation’s priorities, we share stories and storytellers beyond the margins of political power and headlines.

The collaborative documentary emerges from AIR’s third round of public media research and development initiatives. Over the past year, independent journalists, in partnership with public radio and television stations, have built productions across the United States. The 15 participatory projects are united by three qualities: hyperlocal geography; an explicit, shared concern that affects their city, village or town; and a call to invent new, multimedia storytelling models with and for people with whom public media seeks deeper engagement.   

Their work, which will continue to evolve, is gathered at FindingAmerica.airmedia.org. The site is organized around documentary building blocks and introduces visitors to community storytellers in a variety of formats. These stories are shared as we catch them, with a rich, 50-stream social media feed from across the United States. Explore to find:

  • A two-minute audio postcard from Hugh McHugh, a Philadelphia florist who makes homage to his neighbors in a flower arrangement;
  • A luminous mini-documentary film about Creek Indian pastor Jimmy Anderson, who sings, prays, and tells the story of a memorable Christmas;
  • Instagram collections that solicit the fears and fury of veterans of the Army’s 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, New York.

Sharing and remixing stories in real time also lets us illuminate unexpected connections that transcend geography. You can explore how boundaries unite the families in Anacostia’s erased  black neighborhoods with the villagers of Shaktoolik, Alaska, where travel to rural communities grows difficult as the climate shifts; or how prayers emerge from the living room of a young Muslim in Tulsa, a drug court in Knoxville, and from a mother whose son is in a New Orleans prison.

The collaborative documentary experiments with the documentary format itself, drawing our 15 disparate communities into a shared digital space and building on a  public-service mission and the principles of open-source journalism. It asks collaborators and subjects to help us experience their Americas.

We hope you will continue to follow along as we open the documentary to more voices and collaborators in the future. Today, we invite you to explore what we’ve seen and heard so far, and  join us in Finding America.

Principal funding for Localore: Finding America comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Wyncote Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and AIR’s network. The work is supported by station incubators AZPM (Arizona), KBCS (Washington), KCPT (Missouri), KOSU (Oklahoma), KNBA (Alaska), NCPR (New York), WAMU (Washington, D.C.), WBHM (Alabama), WEAA (Maryland), WHYY (Pennsylvania), WUNC (North Carolina), WUOT (Tennessee), WUWM (Wisconsin), WWNO (Louisiana), and WVTF (Virginia).

Follow our projects at #FindingAmerica on Twitter, @AIRcurator and #FindingAmerica on Instagram, and at AIR’s Facebook page.

AIR’s network comprises more than 1,100 indie journalists, documentarians and media makers in 47 states and 30 countries. For our findings from previous productions, see “What’s Outside? Public Media 2014” and “Spreading the Zing: Reimagining Public Media through Makers Quest 2.0.”