For quite awhile, NPT Media Update was all alone in the NPT Blog universe. We had no blog buddies. Then, last year, we introduced the Community Cinema Nashville blog, to keep Community Cinemaphiles and documentary fans abreast of what was going on during the season. But that still left us lonely during the off-season. That’s why we’re proud to introduce two new blogs, NPT Reports and Next Door Neighbors Storytellers, to what is now a blog network of sorts, that will enable us to better serve the community by getting out information and news quicker and more efficiently.
NPT Reports will be written and curated by veteran journalist LaTonya Turner. It will be the umbrella blog for news pertaining to two specific NPT projects and initiatives: Children’s Health Crisis and Education Watch.
Our Children’s Health Crisis project is now in its third year, and we’ve already produced five in a series of seven documentaries on the state of children’s health in Tennessee. It was launched in 2009 in response to the increased number of children in the state facing risks from poor or non-existent prenatal care, the rising epidemic of childhood obesity, misinformation about vaccinations, mental health issues, and adolescent sexuality. You can watch all of the documentaries at wnpt.org/childrenshealth.
Education Watch is a newer initiative. NPT is a member of a consortium of public media stations in five Southern states (Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee) — known as the The Southern Education Desk — committed to exploring the challenges and opportunities confronting education in the southern United States in the 21st century. The Southern Education Desk will have reports around the region providing in-depth feature stories on a broad range of education issues, from K-12 to secondary to adult learning along with Race to the Top coverage. Many of the those reports with Nashville and Tennessee connections will be cross-posted on the new blog.
Our Next Door Neighbors project, comprised of five documentaries and accompanying outreach and engagement, focuses on Nashville’s status as a new destination city for refugees and immigrants, and explores the rich diversity of people now calling Nashville home. It’s been one of the most successful initiatives we’ve work on at NPT in recent years. It’s impact has been felt locally and regionally, and its garnered notice nationally and internationally, with thousands of online views, requests for copies from major universities, an award for community impact for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Welcoming Tennessee Award from the Tennessee Immigration and Refugee Resettlement Coalition and numerous Emmy Awards. It was even mentioned in a book, Why We’re Here: The Powerful Impact of Public Broadcasters When TheyTurn Outward. After telling the stories of the Kurdish, Somali, Hispanic, Bhutanese and Sudanese communities — documentaries all available for free viewing online — the next step was clear. We needed to let these communities, and many other immigrants and refugees, tell their own stories. It was ultimately always where the project was headed. Hence, the Next Door Neighbors Storytellers project was born.
Written and curated by Soraya Salam, Next Door Neighbors Storytellers begins with training and equipping immigrants and refugees to tell their own stories. Building on NPT’s close relationships with local immigrants and the organizations that serve them, the goal of project is to help Nashville’s immigrants and refugees find their voice. Several local partners make it work. Catholic Charities of Tennessee, a refugee resettlement agency, Progreso Community Center, a grassroots organization serving Latinos and the Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition all house simple cameras and editing equipment and encouraging new storytellers. NPT provides hands-on training, equipment and support throughout the project. Specific immigrants serve as Citizen Journalists to offer more regular and in-depth reporting and blogging for this site. Dozens of stories have already been uploaded to our dedicated YouTube channel, and the Storytellers blog at wnpt.org/storytellers will highlight some of the best.
As always, we welcome your comments!