PITTSBURGH – WQED Multimedia has been awarded a major grant from the Heinz Endowments to support the continuation of a multimedia initiative to increase awareness of portrayal and perception of African American men and boys.
“This unique partnership will help ensure positive stories and images of African American men and boys from our community provide a more balanced portrayal through mainstream media,” said Carmen Anderson, the Endowments senior program officer for Children, Youth & Families and chair of the foundation's African American Men and Boys Task Force. “This year a new component, modeled after a national initiative that allows the men and boys to tell their own stories, will be added to the program. Both the quality and content of the pilot series were very good; we anticipate building on this success to further this important agenda.”
“This project shares and advances the goals of both the Heinz Endowments and WQED: to educate and increase awareness of community issues, and to work through partnerships toward a community dialogue to deal with those issues,” said Deborah L. Acklin, president and chief executive officer of WQED.
This project has a special focus on the African American community and features stories of African American men and boys who are accomplished members or rising stars in the community.
Last year’s series, also made possible through a grant from The Heinz Endowments, included a televised town hall meeting and four episodes that focused on entrepreneurship, African American musical forms, and media images of African American men and boys.
“Our experience with Portrayal and Perception (the umbrella name for the series), was that the more we produced, the more we learned about the many uncelebrated men in a myriad of professional and academic settings,” said Darryl Ford Williams, WQED vice president of content. “The connection this series made with the audience was notable, and viewers asked for more stories and suggested topics to cover in future segments.”
This year’s Portrayal and Perception series will consist of four half-hour documentaries that illustrate stories of African American men and boys in urban, suburban and rural environments. The productions will air on multiple platforms and channels to reach the full range of WQED’s audience.
In addition to new episodes on WQED’s main television channel, the complete catalogue of episodes from years one and two of the project will air in a continuous block on WQED: The Neighborhood Channel. The Neighborhood Channel is one of WQED’s four digital channels available for free over-the-air and on local cable systems.
The initiative will culminate in a town hall meeting that assesses the accomplishments and challenges in the effort to reshape the image of African American men and boys, including a conversation on the importance of mentoring and the role of the church.
WQED will partner with the BME (pronounced Be Me) project, a national engagement initiative to create an online portal for African American men and boys to share their positive portraits through a digital story corps. This aspect of the initiative will invite creative voices from the community to participate in the effort to alter perceptions. The Pittsburgh BME initiative will be similar to the BME projects launching in Philadelphia, Detroit and Baltimore.
About WQED Multimedia
WQED Multimedia has a proud history of honors, including 134 National and Mid-Atlantic Emmy® Awards, an Academy Award, and many, many others, including two Emmy® Awards for Station Excellence. WQED was founded in 1954 as the nation’s first community-supported broadcaster. The people of WQED create, produce and distribute quality programs, products and services to engage, inform, educate and entertain the public within their community and around the world. WQED Pittsburgh is one of the first broadcasters in the country to be fully high-definition (HD) in its studio and field production capabilities. It is the parent company of WQED-TV (PBS); WQED: The Neighborhood Channel; WQED: The Create Channel; WQED Showcase; Classical WQED-FM 89.3/Pittsburgh; Classical WQEJ-FM 89.7/Johnstown; the Pittsburgh Concert Channel at WQED-HD2 (89.3-2FM) and online at www.wqed.org/fm; local and national television and radio productions; WQED Interactive (www.wqed.org) and iQ: smartmedia, WQED’s Educational initiative (www.wqed.org/edu).
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