MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – 100 Days in Appalachia launches a new initiative focused on engaging and empowering Appalachians, known as the Appalachian Advisors Network.

This project gives journalists, who want to cover the Appalachian region, a set of training resources, a freelancer hiring database and a network of Appalachian Advisors.

The project consists of three main components:

  • Appalachians for Hire Database: A constantly growing list of freelance creatives across the region that can tell the region’s stories with cultural and contextual complexity
  • How to Cover Appalachia: This page consists of resources for reporting on a variety of issues in the region, from coal to opioids and plenty of things in between, in a way that is inclusive and takes into account their complexities. They were created with national and international journalists in mind. The resource guides were produced in partnership with the Mountain Association.
  • The Appalachian Advisors: The network of advisors are a group of people who live and work in Appalachian communities and are equally committed to ensuring Appalachia’s story is told with dignity and accuracy. They have backgrounds and expertise that are as diverse as the region itself and, through the network, will work to challenge existing stereotypes in coverage and foster a healthy, respectful relationship between those covering Appalachia and Appalachian communities, in the current election cycle and first 100 days of the next presidential administration.

The AAN advisors, who were selected from a high-competitive pool, are based in several Appalachian counties located in West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Alabama and Ohio. These advisors hope to empower those living in Appalachia to share their own stories and help provide national and international news outlets with their unique perspectives during the 2020 election cycle and beyond.

I hope people learn to listen – really listen – and to question their own narratives as well as
that of others. I hope it becomes more acceptable to change your mind when confronted with
new information, without shame or ridicule.”

Jana Parris, advisor and historian based in Limestone County, Alabama

Since the beginning, 100 Days in Appalachia has worked diligently to tell the stories
of the region through the lens of Appalachia-based writers and creators. They do this by telling more detailed stories, fact-checking political claims, investigating injustice within the region and producing in-depth coverage to keep its readers informed.

Being from Kentucky, the only national media coverage of my state I experienced growing up
was patronizing at best and utterly dehumanizing at worst. I wanted to be involved in this
initiative to be a voice that helps make these connections, so our calls for media accountability
is not just a call from one silo of concern but one that is truly intersectional and rooted in the
struggle for justice.”

Mo Kessler, advisor and artist based in Sylva, North Carolina

100 Days in Appalachia announced that over the next few months they will amplify the voices of their advisors who can help tell Appalachia’s story from within the region. With the advisors’ valuable context and insight to illustrate the Appalachian region, the AAN can assist incoming journalists as they navigate unfamiliar territory. The advisors will continue adding to their database of freelance creators to hire, who are better positioned to cover their own communities and region.

The Appalachian Advisors are:
● Brandi Weekly, Greensburg, Pennsylvania
● Anjellica Scott, Clarksburg, West Virginia
● Sara Fincham, Weston, West Virginia
● Jonathan Lacocque, Helvetia, West Virginia
● Michael Farmer, Charleston, West Virginia
● Phoebe Sampson, Junction City, Ohio
● Jeff Hawkins, Neon, Kentucky
● Garrett Nunley, Clintwood, Virginia
● Olivia Martin, Newton, North Carolina
● Mo Kessler, Sylva, North Carolina
● Elias Varn, Asheville, North Carolina
● Matt Wilson, Johnson City, Tennessee
● Bettina Byrd-Giles, Birmingham, Alabama
● Jana Parris, Huntsville, Alabama

For more information about the project, or to speak with a member of the AAN team, please
contact Lexi Bowning at