Appalachia's national story
Community journalists and storytellers at WMMT88.7 talk about how authentic narratives come from residents in Appalachia. Marguerite Casey Foundation/Equal Voice News photo by Paul Nyhan

Equal Voice

Listen: Why Appalachia’s National Story is Damaging

September 13, 2019

Paul Nyhan
By Paul Nyhan
Manager of Storytelling

Do the most insightful stories about Appalachia come from journalists outside the region? Or from storytellers who live in the area? Listen to this WMMT88.7 discussion about dispelling myths and getting to the heart of the matter – in life and journalism.

What’s wrong with how the national media tells the story of Appalachia, and why does it matter?

In a roundtable discussion at Appalshop’s WMMT88.7’s studio, filmmakers, writers and community leaders from Appalachia talk about how the national media continues to tell flawed, oversimplified and ultimately damaging stories about the region.

They explore why the nation needs to listen to the voices of Appalachia’s own storytellers if they want to understand what’s truly happening there. These storytellers and families are central to telling the region’s true story and driving lasting change.

WMMT Public Affairs Director Rachel Garringer is joined by award-winning filmmaker Mimi Pickering, Appalshop’s Institutional Development Director Ada Smith and Taylor Pratt, a youth media producer at the Appalachian Media Institute.

This is part of an ongoing series – “Rural Reality” – from Marguerite Casey Foundation’s Equal Voice News, a digital storytelling platform, about what’s really happening in Appalachia and rural America. The series will feature writers and filmmakers sharing stories centered on new ideas for economic growth, grassroots solutions and community building.

Appalachia's Community Voices


Paul Nyhan is the storytelling and partnership manager at Marguerite Casey Foundation. In August, he and Janelle Choi, Marguerite Casey Foundation program officer for the Midwest, co-wrote the Equal Voice story, “Appalachia’s Story: How the National Media Gets It Wrong.” Equal Voice is Marguerite Casey Foundation’s publication featuring stories of America’s families creating social change. With Equal Voice, we challenge how people think and talk about poverty in America.

Listen: Why Appalachia’s National Story is Damaging