WGBH News and Media Relations

 

August 28, 2017

WGBH and The GroundTruth Project Embark on “Crossing the Divide” – A Cross-Country Journalism Road Trip

 

Recent graduates of five public universities report on the issues dividing America with a fresh perspective.

Public invited behind the scenes to follow along and engage on social media 

BOSTON (August 28, 2017) — The GroundTruth Project, in collaboration with Boston public media producer WGBH, has launched Crossing the Divide, an ambitious reporting initiative and fellowship that brings together a diverse team of recent college graduates to embark on a three-month long, cross-country journey to investigate and report on what it means to “cross the divide.” The project aims to satisfy a national hunger for greater civic engagement, media literacy and transparent journalism.  The journey takes place from late August to mid-November 2017, beginning on Monday, August 28 with a weeklong orientation and training at WGBH’s Boston headquarters, where GroundTruth is based, and at UMass Amherst.

“At a time of deep divisions in America, we wanted to bring together a truly diverse team of reporters to take the great American road trip and capture stories along the way that enlighten and inform,” said GroundTruth Founder and Executive Director Charles Sennott. “This is an extraordinary team that hails from red states and blue states, from rural towns and big cities, from new immigrant backgrounds and those who are part of America’s long immigrant past. I’m excited for these fellows to come together to report on the issues that divide us and to find the places where we can all come together.”

The five fellows, chosen for their demonstrated promise and media expertise, are recent graduates of partner public universities, which will serve as home bases for the designated reporting regions during the trip: Western Massachusetts, Appalachia and Kentucky, the Twin Cities area of Minnesota, Western Montana and California’s Bay Area.

At each stop along the route, the fellows will explore and report on the deep social, political and economic divisions in our nation through a regional lens, revealing an insider’s perspective on the issues. Leads and stories will develop from community and high school storytelling events, and local media partnerships, and student reporting fellows will be identified at each partner high school to serve as community ambassadors.

With support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Crossing the Divide will place an emphasis on making the journalistic process accessible to all. In particular, the project will resonate with a younger audience that is increasingly disconnected from paths to meaningful forms of civic engagement and eager to find a trusted source for news and information. To that end, fellows will document the behind-the-scenes side of the journey and their reporting process on the project website and across social media. The public can follow the trip, including the thoughts and observations of the fellows, by visiting xthedivide.org or by following XTheDivide on Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Snapchat.

“We are looking forward to following the fellows as they make authentic and meaningful connections with a broad and diverse range of people  across the country. In the coming months, the fellows will cover local stories with national relevance and will leverage a range of media platforms to engage with an ever-growing digital audience,” said WGBH Executive Producer and Director of Youth Media  Hillary Wells. “As our media landscape becomes more complex, and to many, less trustworthy, we hope that the inclusion of community listening events, and behind-the-scenes content intended to make the journalistic process transparent, will help empower future creators and consumers of news and media to think openly and critically about issues in their communities that directly impact their lives.”

In an effort to introduce the journalistic process and real-world examples of civic engagement to high school students, WGBH and PBS LearningMedia™, which provides free, classroom-ready digital learning experiences for nearly 1.9 million registered educators across the country, will explore how Crossing the Divide resources and content can enhance existing classroom curriculum. Classrooms across the country will be encouraged to follow the reporting fellows’ journey, and a curated selection of news and media literacy content will be offered in a new PBS LearningMedia™ collection.

The Crossing the Divide fellows are:

Eric Bosco (University of Massachusetts, Amherst)

Data & Investigative Journalist

The University of Massachusetts Amherst graduate’s reporting for The Boston Globe earned him appearances on national television and radio. As a Crossing the Divide fellow, he hopes to learn what makes America great — and what problems need fixing.

Brittany Greeson (Western Kentucky University)

Photojournalist

Greeson, an independent photographer based in Detroit, Michigan, is working on a long-term essay about the Flint water crisis. As a Crossing the Divide fellow, she hopes to grow as a photojournalist and showcase the humanity within our country’s divide.

Gabriel Sanchez (University of Minnesota)

Writer and Reporter

Originally from Caracas, Venezuela, Sanchez graduated with distinction from the University of Minnesota’s School of Journalism, and is a National Newspaper Association Foundation Washington News Fellow. Before getting his journalism degree, he served for four years in the United States Marine Corps as a legal services specialist.

Rachel Cramer (University of Montana)

Audio Reporter

Cramer, a newscaster and reporter for Montana Public Radio, is a graduate of the University of Montana’s Environmental Studies Master’s Degree Program. She hopes that Crossing the Divide will foster understanding during a divisive time in America.

Mahlia Posey (University of California, Berkeley)

Videographer and Reporter

Posey, a graduate of UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism, has interned at NBC Nightly News and the San Francisco Chronicle. She aspires to create compelling stories that change the narrative of minorities in mainstream media.

GroundTruth Managing Editor Rachel Rohr is leading the project editorially, and two field producers will be accompanying the reporters on their drive across the country. They are:

Ben Brody

Brody, a photojournalist and writer, has worked for The GroundTruth Project and GlobalPost since 2010, with assignments in Afghanistan, Egypt and the United States.

Qainat Khan

Khan, The GroundTruth Project's Digital Editor, comes to GroundTruth from local and national public radio programs, where she worked as a writer, producer, reporter and digital editor.

The GroundTruth Project and WGBH are pleased to partner with The Moth on community storytelling events in Montana, Minnesota and California, and with Narrative 4 for storytelling exchanges with students in the five partner high schools: High School of Commerce in Springfield, Massachusetts; Floyd Central High School in Floyd County, Kentucky; St. Louis Park High School in St. Louis Park, Minnesota; Two Eagle River School in Pablo, Montana; and Fremont High School in Oakland, California.

The local media partners for Crossing the Divide include WGBH News (Boston), WGBY (Western Massachusetts), West Virginia Public Broadcasting, the Lexington Herald-Leader (Kentucky), Minnesota Public Radio, Montana Public Radio, the Flathead Beacon (Montana) and KQED (California).

Major funding for “Crossing the Divide” is provided to The GroundTruth Project by John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, with additional support from the Bake Family Trust, the Ford Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the JMB Charitable Fund, the Solutions Journalism Network and individual donors. Local underwriting for the project was provided by Kings Bowl America and the law firm of Feinberg Hanson.

ABOUT THE GROUNDTRUTH PROJECT

The GroundTruth Project is an independent, non-profit media organization dedicated to supporting a new generation of journalists to tell the most important stories of their generation. GroundTruth fellowships center on issues of social justice that matter for an increasingly interconnected world, including human rights, freedom of expression, emerging democracies, the environment, religious affairs and global health. In the past year, GroundTruth has been recognized with a National Edward R. Murrow Award, an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award and an Overseas Press Club Award. GroundTruth is based in Boston at WGBH, the flagship PBS station.

ABOUT WGBH

WGBH Boston is America’s preeminent public broadcaster and the largest producer of PBS content for TV and the web, including FRONTLINE, NOVA, American Experience, Masterpiece, Antiques Roadshow, Arthur and more than a dozen other prime-time, lifestyle, and children’s series. WGBH also is a major supplier of programming for public radio, and Public Radio International (PRI) is an affiliated company. As a leader in educational multimedia for the classroom, WGBH is co-founder and the largest content contributor to PBS LearningMedia™, (pbslearnmedia.org), a partnership of PBS and WGBH Educational Foundation. PBS LearningMedia™ is a free PK-12 digital media library that offers educators high-quality, classroom-ready digital learning experiences for engaging students. WGBH also is a pioneer in technologies and services that make media accessible to those with hearing or visual impairments. WGBH has been recognized with hundreds of honors, including Emmys, Peabodys, duPont-Columbia Awards and Oscars. More info at wgbh.org.

 

 

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