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 (9 p.m. ET/check local listings).
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 this 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 this 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 and 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. 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.