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For immediate release:
April 10, 2013

Jessica Clark               
Email: jessica@AIRmedia.org

Field yields new transmedia formats, strategies for engagement

April 10, Boston: Listen. Can you hear it? The sound of ground shifting, of new storytelling forms breaking through.

On April 22, AIR presents the full scope of its national Localore production (localore.net) with the launch of a new metasite and a public screening at Boston’s Brattle Theatre. The public will join dozens of producers and stations from across the country for “An Evening with Localore” at the DocYard. The debut of a documentary and interactive site will reveal how this unprecedented R&D initiative has forged new pathways to a more nimble, inclusive and bottom-up public media and amassed an audience of more than 27 million across platforms. Hari Sreenivasan of PBS NewsHour will lead a Q&A with Localore Executive Producer/AIR Executive Director Sue Schardt, Localore Executive Editor Noland Walker, and the full production team.

In another first, each of AIR’s 12 Lead Localore Producers will also present at the Tribeca Film Festival’s TFI Interactive on April 20, as part of a celebration of thinkers and innovators from the worlds of film, media, gaming, technology, and society.

The 12-month development phase for this $2 million initiative yields a broad range of fully formed new transmedia formats and strategies. The local teams, representing hundreds of collaborators in communities large and small, make good on AIR’s assignment to “go outside” — to use their ingenuity to blend technology in new ways to carry public media to more citizens via broadcast, digital, and “street” media. These local skunkworks have successfully dissolved some of the legacy barriers between radio and television organizations, introducing new models of opportunity for producers interested in expanding their approach to craft and formulating a new vision for community engagement.

AIR is a vibrant, tightly networked association of nearly 1,000 journalists, documentarians, technicians, media entrepreneurs, and sound artists working at the front edge of public media reinvention. The Boston-based organization’s mission of identifying, cultivating, and deploying talent has shaped this unusual distributed production.

The editorial/content focus is broad — Oaxacan immigrants holding community near and far as they navigate new lives in South Central L.A.; the impact of climate change on civic discourse in a small Rocky Mountain town; the emergence of a “new American dream” as workers in Dayton, Ohio, refashion their lives after years of discouraging economic downturn; and a multimedia showcase of everyman as innovator across the Bay Area. (See the newly launched Localore.net to experience each of the projects.) But the Localore stations, producers, and community collaborators share a common impulse: to discover how Americans are redefining themselves and their communities in the face of profound economic, demographic, and social shifts. By opening up the reporting process and allowing participants to help document their own experiences, Localore producers leading the way in defining the rising craft of what AIR has dubbed “full spectrum” public media.

Along they way, the teams have created new media “life-forms” and tools for makers seeking to create immersive digital media experiences. AIR tapped Zeega — a platform aimed at revolutionizing Web publishing and interactive storytelling that emerged from AIR’s 2009 innovation challenge, MQ2 — as its interactive partner. Zeega’s platform now powers a series of beautiful and surprising interactive documentaries, including the Austin Music Map, produced by Delaney Hall at Texas-based station KUT (and named this week as one of five nominees for a prestigious Webby in the Music category); Rough Ride, produced by Todd Melby for his Black Gold Boom project at North Dakota’s Prairie Public Broadcasting; and Reinvention Stories, produced by Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar at Dayton, Ohio, station WYSO. In March, Zeega was selected to join the first cohort of Matter, a Silicon Valley accelerator for mission-driven media companies so that they can build out their cloud-based platform to allow users to “remake the Internet for a future beyond blogs.”

Stations and public media partners have also recognized the value of Localore’s unique approach, and are stepping up to both support individual projects and spin off related initiatives.

ITVS has partnered with AIR to bring new funding to a second phase of development for selected projects. Chicago Public Media has snatched up AIR’s lead producer Jennifer Brandel to continue Curious City. They’ll work together to explore how to best distribute the technology and approach they created through their collaboration with AIR. Brandel also recently announced a new partnership with WYCC PBS Chicago to feature videos from the project on its public affairs show In the Loop. Reinvention Stories has fed the creation of WYSO’s new community media center, and was recently awarded a MacArthur grant to continue to develop the work they’ve begun. In St. Paul, Twin Cities Public Television has a new innovation unit, Open Air, emerging in the wake of its social media experiment Ed Zed Omega. Austin Music Map is playing a marquee role in the launch of KUT’s new music station, KUTx — with a blowout Map Jam 2013, garnering support from the mayor’s office and the City of Austin’s Music Division.

Localore is supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Wyncote Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and members of AIR production network spanning 46 U.S. states and 19 countries worldwide.