By: Nu Yang
By using strong storytelling, vivid images, and narrative videos, seven newspapers from around the country will document the lives of returning veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars in a series called “American Homecomings.”
The project is from Digital First Media and features the Denver Post; the Oakland (Mich.) Press; the Salt Lake Tribune; the New Haven (Conn.) Register; the Chico (Calif.) Enterprise Record; the Contra Costa (Calif.) Times; and the York (Pa.) Daily Record.
According to Denver Post senior editor for investigations and projects Lee Ann Colacioppo, it was Post editor Greg Moore who developed the idea to create a digital project that incorporates the entire company. Colacioppo and Moore reached out to other DFM papers beginning in February, asking the editors to identify soldiers who were willing to let reporters follow them for a year.
“We gradually developed a list with a nice, diverse mix of the actual veteran population,” Colacioppo said. The series will feature eight soldiers, including a married couple — both Army veterans — from Michigan, and a Marine in Connecticut who turned to ballet after returning from Iraq.
The project launched May 1 at americanhomecomings.com. It is updated every Monday with a new chapter in a veteran’s life. Colacioppo said each individual paper decides which topics to cover, but they are asked to include photos and video with their story.
“The goal is for the narratives to be beautifully photographed and written,” she said. Colacioppo, who oversees editorial content for the series, also uploads each veteran’s story.
The site features a searchable database for national veteran’s services built by Warrior Gateway, a partner with DFM on the project. Colacioppo said DFM is interested in creating more partnerships with nonprofit groups who have good access to veteran’s issues.
In addition, the site features relevant veteran news from other media outlets and a list of blogs for veterans, soldiers, and the military. Readers are also invited to submit their own veteran story and send in photos to share.
“The site is really a public service project,” Colacioppo said. “We’re doing it for the veterans who are returning and to serve that community … the feedback we’ve received so far is from readers thanking us for sharing these stories and veterans who appreciate the attention to the subject.”