On Monday, June 5, 2017, journalism students at RJ Reynolds High School in Winston-Salem, NC met with over 60 family members and teachers in their school's black box theater to screen Weaving Connections, a documentary film they developed over three weeks in a workshop led by artist-educator Diana Greene as part of Pulitzer Center’s NewsArts initiative.
The workshop guided students in researching and creating a film that explores connections between Winston-Salem’s history of textile manufacturing and the growing global textiles industry. Students visited former textile factories in Winston-Salem and spoke with experts on their city’s history with manufacturing textiles. They researched the factors that led to globalization of the textiles industry and worked with Pulitzer Center grantee Jason Motlagh to examine the conditions of clothing factories in Bangladesh. Motlagh met with students in April 2017 to share his experience reporting The Ghosts of Rana Plaza, a multimedia investigation into a textile factory collapse that led to the deaths of over 1,000 people. He also spoke with students about how he used writing, photography and film to capture different angles of the story.
After Motlagh’s visit, students broke into teams to develop story ideas for short documentaries examining connections between the local and global textiles manufacturing industries. Teams examined the development of labor laws in the U.S. and abroad, the impact of automation on wages and technological innovation, the impact of U.S. policies on the global textiles industry and the ways that their own community adapted to the globalization of the textiles industry. Students on each team took on a role: cinematographer, editor, producer or script writer. With the support of Greene and co-facilitator Stan Wright, an MFA candidate in the documentary filmmaking program at Wake Forest University, they also conducted in-depth research and interviews, found ways to visualize their research, wrote and recorded narrations to accompany their visuals and collaborated with their classmates to order the short films into a larger narrative.