20 June 2017 | | NiemanLab
June 2017: Fifty years after the start of the 1967 riots, Timeline unveils its Long Hot Summer project, digging through archives and building a master timeline to share narratives, videos, and photos. Editor-in-chief Brian Thomas Gallagher and his team in San Francisco post the content on the same days that the events took place in 1967, over the course of two months.
“The intensity and frequency of the riots was hard to imagine…There’s a lot of context around last summer and Ferguson. This was so much more violent and widespread,” Gallagher told me. “I thought it would be interesting to kind of let that unfold to readers, to get a sense of that intensity with how the story is published.”
These are more than just anniversary posts, though, and that’s true to Timeline’s mission.
“If you think about history through the lens of the present, you can create media of our history that we think is unusually compelling and powerful,” CEO Giles said. “We don’t think about what are the most important events of the 21st century. We’re not giving history lessons.”
Instead, Timeline has refocused to pay more attention to the parts of history that lacked attention from main media organizations at the time. Its website includes two distinct sections for women’s history and black history, and Timeline regularly highlights unsung moments in LGBT history as well.
It’s in line with what Timeline’s target audience of 25-to-45-year-old Americans wants, Giles believes, reflecting their growing interests in social justice and equality. The content is then distributed through written stories, photo essays, and social video shared through social media, an email newsletter, an app, and the website itself.
“The challenge…is to tell them so they each have a story that’s more than ‘then someone threw a bottle and then the National Guard came in,’ but to have them all be meaningful on their own,” Gallagher said. “There was a balance I wanted to strike with acknowledging some of the truths of why these things happened, some validity to the anger, and political disenfranchisement without starting off in a polemical way.”
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