This May, Olivia Martin ’20, graduated from Appalachian State University. Since graduating, she has become involved with 100 Days in Appalachia, an organization that strives to create an accurate representation of the Appalachia region in the media. Martin is furthering this cause by serving as an Appalachian advisor and providing resources for journalists to accurately portray Appalachian communities.
100 Days in Appalachia is an independent, nonprofit news outlet incubated at the Media Innovation Center of West Virginia University Reed College of Media in collaboration with West Virginia Public Broadcasting (WVPB) and The Daily Yonder of the Center for Rural Strategies in Kentucky. By fact-checking political claims, investigating injustice within the region and producing in-depth coverage to keep its readers informed, 100 Days in Appalachia is working to change views surrounding the Appalachia region.
The recently established Appalachian Advisors Network within the 100 Days in Appalachia organization will challenge inaccurate depictions of Appalachian communities in the news 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 new project consists of a set of training resources, a freelance hiring database and a network of Appalachian advisors that will all serve as a resource for national and international journalists who want to cover the region. Martin is one of 14 Appalachian advisors who were selected from a highly-selective pool of nearly 100 applicants.
Martin resides in Catawba County and will be able to point journalists covering the area in the direction of organizations that will represent her region well. As an Appalachian advisor, Martin hopes to “gain insight into my fellow participants’ lives within Appalachia and further insight into my own community as I investigate and reflect on what it means to live in Appalachia.”
At Appalachian State University, Martin majored in English with a concentration in creative writing. She was always interested in writing for the media and during a creative writing capstone course, she wrote weekly journals and memoirs on current events. When professor Susan Weinburg distributed students’ memoirs to organizations around the community, 100 Days in Appalachia wished to publish several students' work, including Martin’s "'The Way We Live Now’: Our Bubble."
Now, Martin is a freelance writer and editor focusing on life in the South for 100 Days of Appalachia. She wanted to get involved as an Appalachian advisor to rebuild the relationship between the media and her community in Catawba County.
“People in my area have a lot of distrust for the media because they do not feel accurately portrayed. I want to help people in my community regain that trust,” said Martin.
Her advice for journalists covering Appalachia asks that, instead of taking the community members at face value, try to understand their point of view, and approach them from an honest angle, person to person, rather than journalist to subject.
Going forward, Martin would like to continue working with nonprofit organizations and possibly publish a novel. She is enjoying her role as an Appalachian advisor and helping to change the conversation around her community in the media.
About 100 Days in Appalachia
100 Days in Appalachia is an independent, nonprofit news outlet incubated at the Media Innovation Center of West Virginia University Reed College of Media in collaboration with West Virginia Public Broadcasting (WVPB) and The Daily Yonder of the Center for Rural Strategies in Kentucky. We have an open-source, co-publishing model and share content from Appalachia’s diverse communities with regional, national and international media organizations. Read more about 100 Days in Appalachia’s mission, funding and collaborating partners here.
About the Department of English
The Department of English at Appalachian State University is committed to outstanding work in the classroom, the support and mentorship of students, and a dynamic engagement with culture, history, language, theory and literature. The department offers master’s degrees in English and rhetoric and composition, as well as undergraduate degrees in literary studies, film studies, creative writing, professional writing and English education. Learn more at https://english.appstate.edu.
By Sophia Woodall
Oct. 5, 2020