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‘Flannery’s Porch’ series seeks to prototype millennial news

The first episode of a new millennial news series developed by the fusion journalists of WKU has just been released through the IndieGoGo social crowdsourcing platform.

Two years in development and breaking a lot of the rules of old mainstream media, Flannery’s Porch uses the story of two women, struggling to preserve the historic homestead of iconic Southern writer Flannery O’Connor, as a backdrop for reporting on a wide range of current news issues.

For instance, the first episode being released deals with environmental sustainability in the process of reporting on a bluegrass festival held at O’Connor’s Andalusia Farm in Milledgeville, Georgia.

Future episodes will explore other relevant modern issues including social diversity, economic equality, LGBT rights, animal conservation, historic preservation and unbridled commercialization. Many of those topics are central to O’Connor’s writings and legacy.

However, Flannery’s Porch focuses primarily on the efforts and passions of the current farm-museum’s director, Elizabeth Wylie, and her assistant, April Moon Carlson, as they strive to protect Andalusia from the ravages of time and neglect. Thousands of people from all over the world visit the landmark each year.

“It’s episodic. It’s character-driven. It is full of substance and the authenticity everyone seeks, particularly millennials, when hungry for information to enrich their lives,” explained the project’s senior news experience designer, Nolan Miles. “It’s news, but it’s done in a way you’d expect out of a Netflix series. You’ll want to come back. Hopefully you’ll want to make this part of your own experience, your own lifestyle.”

And just as Flannery’s Porch demonstrates the new avenues journalism is taking, it is also launching in a very non-traditional manner. The four episodes of season one are being posted publicaly over the next several weeks on the social crowdsourcing site IndieGoGo.

“Normally crowdfunding websites like IndieGoGo and Kickstarter are where projects like ours go to try to get their initial production funding,” said Engagement Producer Murphy Burke. “But these are also great places to build and engage a community around your story. So we decided why not use IndieGoGo to actually launch Flannery’s Porch and give people more of a reason to come see what we’re doing. If it clicks the way we intend, then our audience will share the show with their friends and even help us do season two.”

The link flannerysporch.com goes directly to the project on IndieGoGo, where the “Sustainability” episode can be found.

After the launch campaign ends, that web address will go to the Flannery’s Porch mobile webapp. The Western iMedia news experience is being designed specifically for a mobile-connected millennial community.

Miles and Burke are just part of the current staff of Western iMedia, a millennial news startup embedded in WKU’s School of Journalism & Broadcasting. Regardless of their individual backgrounds in journalism, broadcasting, photojournalism, advertising, public relations or other fields, the WiM group works collaboratively as fusion journalists to produce startup-style media with the ethics and standards of professional journalism.

“We’re the editorial equivalent of a musical band,” Miles said, “with various journalistic artists combining our styles and skills with different media instruments to make this important and fascinating story together.”

WKU current students and now-alums involved with developing Flannery’s Porch since work started on the project in 2014 include:

Western iMedia was founded and is directed by by Kerry J. Northrup, an international media executive who serves as WKU’s Turner Multimedia Professor and a professional in residence. He is also chief editorial officer of The Newsplexer Projects, an independent entrepreneurial editorial studio that designs and produces massive-media stories while prototyping new ways of doing the news.

Contact: Kerry Northrup, (270) 745-5140

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