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