Journalism students create website to honor fallen miners
Published: Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, March 8, 2011 23:03
Students participating in West Virginia Uncovered, a multimedia journalism class at West Virginia University, have collaborated to create an online, interactive website commemorating the lives of the 29 coal miners who were killed in the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster in April of last year.
The site is scheduled to officially launch on April 5, the one-year anniversary of the tragedy. A small group of journalism students has been working with the miners' families to construct a website that pays homage to those who lost their lives in the largest mining accident since 1970.
The explosion of the mine took the lives of coal miners at Massey Energy's Upper Big Branch Mine in Montcoal in Raleigh County, W.Va.
"The site is still in the building process right now," said Evan Moore, a senior journalism major and site contributor. "We started in the beginning of February."
The idea for the project was developed by West Virginia Uncovered students who have been enrolled in the class for a few semesters, Moore said.
"Since we've been in it for so long, we decided to take it to the next level," he said.
Moore said the first connection he was able to make with the people involved was through the Facebook page the group created in support of the site.
"People sign on and leave comments thanking us," Moore said. "It's really humbling, but at the same time really gratifying to make a difference."
The student-generated website contains photos and interviews with the family and friends of the deceased miners.
The students are currently working on creating
individual profiles of each miner with names, photos and short biographies. Moore said all the photos on the website were sent by family members who wanted to contribute to the memorial.
Paige Lavender, a senior journalism major, said she took this project more to heart because she is from the nearby town of Chesapeake, W.Va., and felt compelled to participate in the project to keep the memory of the miners alive.
"It's supposed to be interactive," Lavender said. "It's supposed to be about the community."
Lavender and Moore said the site will be handed over to members of the Whitesville and Montcoal communities following its April 5 launch.
"It really has grown into its own thing," Lavender said.
The project was started with the goal of making it something the community could contribute to as a whole, Lavender said.
The site will be run by the community except for a moderator from the Whitesville area maintaining basic upkeep and approving content.
"We have always asked the miners' families for their input on the project," Lavender said.