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Bitter Southerner launches three new story streams

embed-1In  late June, the Bitter Southerner launched its second membership drive and with it, all new kinds of content. For the three years of its existence, the Bitter Southerner — an online magazine that “tells stories about the South that don’t represent the typical national media stereotype” has always operated on a single format: tell one good story a week. At 3,000-10,000 words, these stories publish on Tuesdays and explore everything from cocktails to music to race.
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? “That big long-form piece of journalism every Tuesday is always going to be at the core of what we do,” says founder and editor Chuck Reece. But with more interest in the magazine came more submissions and more opportunities to showcase different kinds of content, and to Reece and the other founders — Dave Whitling, Kyle Tibbs Jones, and Butler Raines— it became clear what they needed to do.
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? In late June, the Bitter Southerner began releasing three new kinds of content: videos on Wednesdays (“Moving Stories”), folklore on Thursdays (“Folklore Project”), and short, interactive content on Sundays (“Rise & Shine”).
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? The inaugural video piece, by Zach Wolfe, is called "Beauty & Struggle: The Story of 54 Hilliard St." A 10 minute documentary about the still-beating heart of WERD, the first black-owned-and-operated radio station in North America, the piece finds its groove in the moving camera and the pulsing jazz underneath — and displays just how good the leaders in Southern filmmaking are. Reece and the other founders, floored by the quality of submissions they got from filmmakers in Atlanta and across the South, wanted to showcase this.
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? “There’s not really a place to go on the web to get a nice well-selected bunch of Southern films,” Reece says. “That’s what we want to create with this selection we call Movie South. …We’ve just been approached by so many people who are making visually interesting documentary films about the South.”
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? The other sections evolved along the same lines—the magazine was receiving so many submissions — good submissions — that defied the 3,000-10,000 word count written word format that it only made sense to create a space for them.
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? The Folklore Project, published on Thursdays, will be a collection of family stories and artifacts — recipes, photographs, audio recordings, even.
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? “The thing we noticed after we started,” Reece says, “is that not only did we get pitches from journalists, we also got people who aren’t writers by trade just sending us their stories. And a lot of the stories were about their families.”
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? The hope for the Folklore Project is that it becomes a central hub for Southern culture: that a hundred little stories will eventually tell one big story about what the South is today.
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? The Bitter Southerner, as a new media company, takes risks where perhaps other companies wouldn’t. All its ads are sourced from Southern-owned businesses that “see the region in the same way” as the Bitter Southerner, and it offers free content while asking members to show their support once a year — much like today’s other hugely popular storytelling juggernaut, the podcast (which the Bitter Southerner also promises to make). Even their Sunday section —Rise & Shine — grew out of a contemporary media platform: Facebook.
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? “A lot of times on the weekend we’ll post something on Facebook like, ‘What’s your favorite pimento cheese recipe?’ and people post these things by the hundreds! And we just thought, wow, wouldn’t it be fun to have a giant collection of pimento cheese recipes?’” Reece says. The Rise & Shine Sunday pieces are meant to be a shorter read, encourage engagement, and eventually become wrapped up in the Folklore Project.
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?“If you believe in a more inclusive and forward-thinking definition of the South you might like The Bitter Southerner,” says Reece. “And if you like what you read, and you like what you watch, we appreciate it that you participate.”



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