ARLINGTON, VA; April 2, 2020 – PBS and its recently launched crowdsourced storytelling project, PBS AMERICAN PORTRAIT, the signature content initiative of PBS’s 50th anniversary, will present a new coronavirus special to broadcast Friday, May 8 at 9:00 p.m. ET (check local listings), announced today.
The special, IN THIS TOGETHER: A PBS AMERICAN PORTRAIT STORY, will begin streaming May 8 on all station-branded PBS platforms, including PBS.org and the PBS Video App, available on iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, YouTube TV and Chromecast.
Since early January, the PBS AMERICAN PORTRAIT website has captured thousands of stories by Americans that, together, hope to answer the question: What does it really mean to be an American today? With the unprecedented global and national impact of COVID-19, the answer to that central question and related prompts has shifted in recent weeks, which is reflected in the submissions still pouring into the site. The half-hour special will spotlight the many personal stories, photographs and videos shared by thousands of people in response to the prompt “I never expected…,” and viewers will hear first-hand accounts of how this global pandemic has affected our nation.
Throughout the special, which is being produced by PBS and RadicalMedia, participants from across the country will use self-shot video, photos and text to share how the COVID-19 outbreak is impacting their lives, their communities and their understanding of what it means to live in our country at this unique moment in time. IN THIS TOGETHER: A PBS AMERICAN PORTRAIT STORY participants will tell these stories self-filmed in their own words, in their own creative ways and from their own points of view.
“We’ll blend collages of user-generated content from around the country with deeper dives into several main stories in which participants will record themselves each day for three weeks, creating a chronology of their experiences as they cope with this new reality,” said Bill Margol, Senior Director, PBS Programming & Development and Executive in Charge of PBS AMERICAN PORTRAIT. “We’ll weave in and out of those main stories with ‘chorus’ montages from all types of people around the country, across age, race, gender identity, income, ability and geography.”
“During this most challenging and unprecedented time in our history, AMERICAN PORTRAIT’s ability to allow Americans to share their stories with the reach and power of PBS is a testament to the importance of public media,” said RadicalMedia Chairman and CEO, Jon Kamen. “We’re proud that RadicalMedia is an integral partner in this great work. Someday we’ll look back at how our communities and the country experienced this crisis.”
PBS LearningMedia will also provide teachers and students with educational materials around the special focused on media and storytelling, drawing on PBS Newshour Student Reporting Labs' curriculum.
More details about the participants and their stories will be shared closer to the broadcast date. Please visit the PBS AMERICAN PORTRAIT website at www.pbs.org/americanportrait and follow the conversation at #AmericanPortraitPBS on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to view the thousands of stories already being submitted.
Target is a major funder and national promotional partner for PBS AMERICAN PORTRAIT, expanding the reach of this initiative. Additional funding is provided by Anne Ray Foundation.
PBS AMERICAN PORTRAIT was developed and created with RadicalMedia. For RadicalMedia, Jon Kamen and Dave Sirulnick serve as Executive Producers, and Naomi Gilbert is the Senior Interactive Producer for the web platform. Craig D’Entrone is Executive Producing for RadicalMedia and is showrunner on the project. Bill Margol is the Executive in Charge for PBS. For IN THIS TOGETHER: A PBS AMERICAN PORTRAIT STORY, RadicalMedia’s Jon Kamen and Dave Sirulnick serve as Executive Producers alongside Director and Executive Producer Craig D'Entrone. Michéle Stephenson is Series Producer.
About PBS AMERICAN PORTRAIT
Launched on January 10, 2020, AMERICAN PORTRAIT, a national storytelling project aligned with PBS’s 50th-anniversary celebration, is the organization’s most ambitious multiplatform project in its history. A digital-first initiative produced by RadicalMedia, AMERICAN PORTRAIT begins as a platform for user-generated content participation, and is envisioned to encompass publishing, short-form content, classroom engagement, a web miniseries, public art installations, live events and, in January 2021, a nationally televised documentary series. Leveraging the local reach of PBS through its member stations, AMERICAN PORTRAIT presents a mosaic of our country’s diversity by connecting tens of thousands of people across the country, creating a communal voice through individual stories of joy, hardship, triumphs and sorrow. Participants will be able to tell and share their own stories, and see the stories shared by a wide panorama of Americans, united by a series of prompts that will serve as conversation starters, including: “I was raised to believe…,” “The tradition I carry on is…,” “What keeps me up at night is…,” “When I step outside my door…” and “Most days I feel…,” among others like, “I never expected…,” recently added in response to COVID-19.
PBS, with more than 330 member stations, offers all Americans the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television and digital content. Each month, PBS reaches over 120 million people through television and 26 million people online, inviting them to experience the worlds of science, history, nature and public affairs; to hear diverse viewpoints; and to take front row seats to world-class drama and performances. PBS’s broad array of programs has been consistently honored by the industry’s most coveted award competitions. Teachers of children from pre-K through 12th grade turn to PBS for digital content and services that help bring classroom lessons to life. Decades of research confirms that PBS’s premier children’s media service, PBS KIDS, helps children build critical literacy, math and social-emotional skills, enabling them to find success in school and life. Delivered through member stations, PBS KIDS offers high-quality educational content on TV— including a 24/7 channel, online at pbskids.org, via an array of mobile apps and in communities across America. More information about PBS is available at www.pbs.org, one of the leading dot-org websites on the internet, or by following PBS on Twitter, Facebook or through our apps for mobile and connected devices. Specific program information and updates for press are available at pbs.org/pressroom or by following PBS Pressroom on Twitter.
RadicalMedia is a global media company that develops, creates and produces film, television, music programming, commercials, brand partnerships, interactive design, and digital and immersive experiences for all distribution platforms. RadicalMedia is fluent in each and every discipline of storytelling, with Oscar®, Emmy®, Peabody® and Grammy® Award accolades including Netflix’s first original documentary film, the Oscar-nominated and Emmy-Winning What Happened, Miss Simone?; Academy-Award Winning The Fog of War; Paradise Lost;In the Heights and Hamilton’s America with Lin-Manuel Miranda for PBS; Netflix’s Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes; Abstract and My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman. Recently announced projects include Apple TV+ mental health series with Oprah Winfrey and Prince Harry; David Byrne’s American Utopia, directed by Spike Lee; Black Woodstock, directed by Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson; Lin-Manuel’s Hamilton Movie, which recently sold to Disney + and Spaceship Earth, which sold to NEON out of Sundance 2020. Check out the latest work on Instagram and on www.radicalmedia.com.