Today CNN Digital rolled out the first of its “Great American Stories,” a cross- platform multimedia series focused on the unexpected places and unforgettable characters who’ve helped define our nation. The series includes original video vignettes combined with powerful text stories of the people and places who are doing things a little differently than the norm.
· Like the 200 people who live and work in Whittier, Alaska – all together in one 14-story building called Begich Towers Incorporated, a structure leftover from the Cold War.
· Or the folks in Green Bank, West Virigina, who aren’t allowed to use cell phones or wifi because it will interfere with the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope, one of the world's most sensitive and the largest steerable telescope.
· And the students at Robert Morris University who are considered college athletes – on scholarships – for playing video games.
Rolling out on CNN.com, on mobile and on social every Wednesday through September, these unique narratives will help tell the stories of America.
This morning, CNN Digital published a story about suicides among military family members called The Uncounted.
Recently, at the urging of military family groups, a report was given to Congress on what it would take to track suicides of military service family members. “The Uncounted” is a story that dives deeply into this issue and provides an intimate portrait of what these families have gone through. The story is told through the eyes of a sibling, a spouse, parents and a teenager. It includes photo essays and is laid against a stark white background that accentuates the emotions in the piece.
To discuss the aspects of this layered story, CNN will be hosting two online chats today. The first is at 11amET in the comments section of the story, where CNN writer Ashley Fantz will be answering questions alongside two mental health counselors. In the afternoon, there will be another chat on CNN's Facebook page at 2pmET to open up a wider discussion about this controversial topic.
Readers are also encouraged to post a tribute to a spouse, sibling or other relative of a service member through CNN iReport and share their story of love and sacrifice. To join the conversation on Twitter, use #UncountedCNN.
CNN Digital nabbed four Society for Features Journalism Awards – including two first-place wins – which honor the craft of feature writing and the people who do it for a living at news organizations and wire services. The awards won are listed below:
1st place in Integrated Storytelling: The Undecided
1st place in Video Storytelling: Journeying home to tell my truth
2nd place in Series/Project: Race, Identity and Politics Series
3rd place in General Feature: Saving Aesha
Winners will be honored at SFJ’s national conference at Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla. On October 9-12.
Full list of winners here.
***PROGRAMMING NOTE: Aesha Update, Around the World, Friday, May 10, 12pmET
On CNN TV:
CNN/US: Around the World, Friday 12pm
CNN International: Amanpour, Friday 3pm
CNN en Español: Friday afternoon
CNN.com, Friday 12pm
Today, CNN will unveil an exclusive report on Aesha, the woman whose story of abuse and disfigurement became an international symbol of oppression and crimes against women in war-torn Afghanistan, during Around the World, which airs at 12pm ET. Reported by Christiane Amanpour and CNN Digital, the story will update viewers on Aesha’s journey and illuminate the psychological and physical scars that remain. Users can find more details on CNN.com and CNN.com/aesha. FULL POST
CNN Digital senior producer Wayne Drash writes an uplifting book called "On These Courts," about former NBA all-star player Penny Hardaway. The story captures Hardaway’s experience when he returns to his Memphis roots after retirement to help a friend with cancer coach disadvantaged youth. With the help of Hardaway’s teachings, the team of at-risk teens goes on to become State Champions in Tennessee. Drash originally reported on this story for CNN.com last year, and the tale has since evolved into a published work.
The book hits shelves today, with an excerpt on CNN.com. A portion of the book’s proceeds will go to Penny Hardaway's FastBreak Courts, part of Hardaway’s ongoing efforts to help youth in the Memphis community.
Special Feature Revisits ‘Baby Noor’ – Iraq’s Miracle Baby
Marking 10 years since the U.S. invasion of Iraq, CNN Digital shares a remarkable story of struggle and survival in the face of war. Labeled by the media Iraq’s miracle baby,' Noor al-Zahra Haider was discovered by American soldiers and brought to the U.S. for life-saving surgery in 2005. In the multimedia feature “Baby Noor: An Unfinished Miracle” CNN reporter Moni Basu, who first met Noor seven years ago, returns with David S. Holloway to Baghdad to explore the challenges one Iraqi family faced after accepting American aid and reunites the world with Baby Noor.
"This personal tale leaves us with big ethical questions to ponder as we reflect on the Iraq invasion,” said Meredith Artley, vice president and managing editor of CNN Digital. “Congratulations to Moni, David and the team for this artful and touching piece of enterprise journalism.”