A project of 100 Days in Appalachia
What is Appalachia?
If you’re visualizing the soot-covered faces of coal miners or barefoot youth in tattered clothing, there’s a reason. Since President Lyndon B. Johnson declared the War on Poverty in 1964, images and stories have perpetuated misrepresentative stereotypes about Appalachia and its people.
Appalachia is a 420 county region that stretches across 13 states, made up of big cities like Pittsburgh and Birmingham and small towns like Elkins and Sylva. It is as diverse as any region of the country, but national media coverage of Appalachia has left the nation to see us as a monolith and has exploited our struggles to further divide us.
We exist to change that narrative, to challenge those stereotypes, but in these challenges, we also see opportunity. In Appalachia, there are tales of hope, triumph and resilience — yet those stories are often overlooked. The Appalachian Advisors Network will work to amplify and empower Appalachians as they work in partnership with national and international media outlets to tell our stories fully and accurately.
What is the Appalachian Advisors Network?
The Appalachian Advisors Network, a project of 100 Days in Appalachia, is a set of training resources, a freelancer hiring database, and a network of Appalachian Advisors that are a resource for national and international journalists who want to cover our region. The project consists of three main components:
Appalachians for Hire Database: The database is a constantly growing list of freelance creatives across the region that can tell our region’s stories with cultural and contextual complexity.
How to Cover Appalachia: The How to Cover page consists of resources for reporting on a variety of issues in the region, from coal to opioids and plenty of things inbetween, in a way that is inclusive and takes into account their complexities. They were created with national and international journalists in mind. Although we’d prefer these outlets hire Appalachians to tell our stories, we know they will still want to send their own reporters, so, in response, we are hoping to equip them with the context they need before they set foot in our hills. Our resource guides were produced in partnership with the Mountain Association.
The Appalachian Advisors: Our network of advisors are a group of people who live and work in our communities, who are equally committed to ensuring Appalachia’s story is told with dignity and accuracy. They have backgrounds and expertise that are as diverse as our region itself and, through the network, will work to challenge existing stereotypes in coverage and foster a healthy, respectful relationship between those covering Appalachia and the Appalachian communities they wish to cover, especially in the 2020 election cycle and beyond.
Who are your community advisors? How are they selected?
Our advisors are educators and artists, health care advocates and students. They are newly graduated college students and youth pastors. They are mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers.
Our group of advisors were carefully selected from nearly 100 applications to provide a geographically, racially, religiously and professionally diverse snapshot of our region. They are committed to helping ensure coverage of our region includes their voices, but also the voices of their neighbors, family and friends.
How can I get involved?
We’re always accepting input and vow to leave a seat open for everyone at our table (in true Appalachian fashion). If you’d like to get involved with our team, pitch a freelance story or support us in the form of a donation, please contact us at [email protected].
This project was made possible with the support of The Lenfest Institute, Facebook Community Journalism Project, the Google News Initiative and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Coverage of the AAN
Below are links to national and regional coverage about the Appalachian Advisors Network: