Local that Works

Local that Works spotlights innovative and replicable content, engagement and revenue initiatives at public radio and TV stations and nonprofit and digital news organizations in the U.S. LTW includes an annual contest and a database (below). LTW produces webinars that offer insights into projects and organizations that are reshaping local civic journalism.

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Safe Haven: Louisiana’s Green Book

Louisiana Public Broadcasting
Public TV
Jason Viso

It all started at a Louisiana museum! A traveling Smithsonian Institute exhibit featuring The Green Book was headed to Baton Rouge. Exhibit sponsor ExxonMobil knew they wanted to be part of the storytelling opportunities associated with the history of The Green Book and turned to LPB. We developed Safe Haven: Louisiana’s Green Book, a multiplatform initiative featuring a series of eight digital shorts showcasing historically significant locations from across Louisiana featured in The Green Book. The series shares with viewers the stories behind the Black-owned hotels, restaurants, gas stations and more that made travel possible for African Americans during the Jim Crow era.

The shorts first debuted on LPB’s YouTube Channel, on the dedicated microsite, www.lpb.org/greenbook, and on LPB social media channels. A statewide broadcast followed, with the series airing on our weekly news program, Louisiana: The State We’re In. The project met with so much enthusiasm, LPB created a 60-minute broadcast special. Underwriters ExxonMobil Baton Rouge were so pleased with the original series they asked for more! LPB went back and produced an additional two episodes.

Support for the series was a station-wide effort starting with an interactive community discussion about the series at the Capitol Park Museum in Baton Rouge in conjunction with the Smithsonian Exhibit. Our Education Division generated awareness of the series in both their parent and educator newsletters. Because of the historical and educational value of the series, LPB was able to forge new relationships and strengthen others. In particular, we developed a cross promotional partnership with 64 Parishes magazine, published by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities (https://64parishes.org/safe-haven). We were also invited to discuss the series on the statewide podcast Louisiana Insider strengthening that relationship. Both partnerships continue today and have expanded to other projects.

LPB chose Kara St. Cyr to host and co-produce the series. Watching Kara learn and grow with each episode, discovering the history along with the viewers, is a big part of what makes the episodes work. Kara brought the perspective of a young Black woman to the audience and elevated what might have otherwise been a rote history lesson. Any station, in any state need only to explore their own entries in The Green Book to uncover rich and sometimes little-known history that deserves to be told and preserved.

With 14,000+ views, on YouTube alone, the series is popular. An extended benefit came in the form of new YouTube channel subscribers, increasing by 100 thanks to their exposure to the series. Viewers were also engaged, with 417 likes, which helps with YouTube search results. The amount of earned media generated gives us some indication of the statewide appeal. From magazines, to newsletters, to podcasts, those wishing to be associated with the series provides us with an even better understanding of the value the series has to the community. Additionally, as a statewide network, this series allowed LPB to share stories from New Orleans to Shreveport and points in between.

This project has generated $30,000 plus in revenue from a variety of sources. Underwriting from ExxonMobil accounted for the first $10,000. When they saw the initial episodes, they were so pleased they provided another $10,000 to expand the series. LPB turned those ten episodes into a 60-minute pledge event which has generated $10,459. The program is evergreen and continues to air. Safe Haven is monetized on the LPB YouTube channel, generating just under $100.00 in passive income so far.