What is Appalachia, and why should you care?

100 Days in Appalachia was born the day after the 2016 election. Weary of the influx of bus tours and parachuting journalists seeking insights into rural America, we launched 100 Days to push back on the national narratives that had reduced our region to a handful of narrow stories.

Appalachia is more than coal fields and country roads — it is a large, complex region comprising 13 states and 25 million people. The region features urban centers and suburban counties that contain diverse stories from the Black Belt to the Rust Belt.  100 Days is designed to share these stories with a global audience as we cover the complicated landscape of American politics through the prism of Appalachia. We work with local voices to apply a cultural lens to what’s happening in our backyards and share what that means for the rest of the world.

Whose Appalachia? Your Appalachia.

We are assertive about why our reporting and our voice matters, and why the cost of getting that wrong has in part led to where we are as a divided nation. While the world has been busy asking what a Trump presidency tells us about the state of our nation, we’re asking: What does Appalachia tell us?

That question can’t be answered in a filter bubble. To get it right, we partner with regional media, independent journalists and communities across Appalachia to launch conversations and produce reporting that can bridge cultural and political divides. Instead of Appalachia being the subject of someone else’s story, Appalachians are the authors of these stories. We believe that when members of communities hear their voices, recognize their realities and are instrumental in how stories are framed for the rest of the world, trust can be rebuilt in homegrown news.

We’re listening — and we ask the world to listen with us — as Appalachia tells a new story.

Dana Coester, Executive Editor 

How it Works
100 Days in Appalachia is published at the West Virginia University Reed College of Media Innovation Center  in collaboration with West Virginia Public Broadcasting (WVPB) and The Daily Yonder, of the Center for Rural Strategies, headquartered in Kentucky. In an effort to amplify missing voices and unique perspectives from Appalachia, we have an open-source, co-publishing model and share content with regional, national and international media organizations— from the Gazette Mail in West Virginia to Reckon in Alabama to Politifact, Salon, Rewire, The Guardian and others.  If you are a media outlet and want to collaborate or share content, contact us at [email protected].

Funding and Sustainability
Seed funders for 100 Days in Appalachia include the Knight Foundation, the Benedum Foundation and Democracy Fund as well as the generous support of individual private donations, including donor Bob Kittle.

In collaboration with our partners and as part of the mission of WVU Reed College of Media, we are deeply committed to community-based, nonprofit journalism. While we depend on individual donors and foundations to support our work, we are also experimenting with new forms of audience building and revenue generation to help explore sustainability models on behalf of our regional media partners and the industry at large. In the coming year we will be conducting and candidly narrating these revenue experiments with the hope of growing 100 Days and its impact in the region.

Our editorial leadership serves 100 Days in Appalachia with a healthy dose of after-hours volunteerism and as an extension of their work and commitment to community journalism within the University. Students at the College of Media have the opportunity to work on staff for 100 Days through courses in Audience Development, Social Video Production, Editing and Curation, Social Journalism and other courses. As a lab publication, 100 Days supports the WVU Reed College of Media’s new journalism curriculum, shifting from an emphasis in content creation to new courses in audience development and community engagement. Meanwhile grant funding has enabled us to support regional journalists — investing in quality journalism created by new voices from the region is vital to our mission. Funding has also enabled us to develop special reporting projects, new content verticals in religion, race, food, the environment, a White House correspondent, as well as community engagement activities and collaborative partnerships with other schools and organizations.

Follow along with 100 Days in Appalachia on Facebook and Twitter   and meet our staff here. If you are interested in contributing reporting, please be sure to see our call for pitches.   If you are interested in collaborating or supporting the project we hope to hear from you at [email protected]