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The Long Night Advocates Help Shut Down Backpage.com


On Monday, January 9th, Backpage.com, one of the world’s largest classified ads sites, closed its adults ads section. Advocates against sex trafficking hail this closure as a victory, as Backpage has been accused by a scathing U.S. Senate report of hiding criminal activity by deleting terms from ads that indicated sex trafficking or prostitution, including of children.

Natalie, the fifteen-year old girl from suburban Seattle who was forced into prostitution and is featured in The Long Night, has been an advocate in this case, claiming that her pimp used Backpage to fuel his business, and her enslavement.

With the help of the ads posted on Backpage, Natalie was repeatedly raped every single day, bringing in as much as $4,000 a weekend – every penny of which would go to her pimp.  With that much money on the table, her pimp became increasingly aggressive and abusive. Natalie had no way to escape.

When her mother, Nacole, an adamant anti-trafficking advocate, first learned of the ads on Backpage, she was shocked. “I live in an American town, how can my kid be sold on the Internet?”

108 days after her disappearance, Natalie’s Backpage ad was targeted as part of a sting by the Seattle Vice Squad. There, she was rescued by officers who understood her situation and have since helped her testify in the case against her pimp. Her pimp, Baruti Hopson, has been sentenced to 26 and a half years in prison for promoting the commercial sex abuse of a minor.

Natalie and Nacole, very simply, are our role models. They used their pain and tragic experience to become strong voices against the sexual exploitation of minors. In helping to close the adult ad section of Backpage, they have made the world just a little bit safer for our children. We thank you for all you have done and hope that in documenting your experiences in The Long Night, we made this fight, a little easier too.

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The 75th Anniversary of the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards

duPont 75th logo

This year marks the 75 Anniversary of the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards, honoring the best in broadcast, documentary and online reporting. This year’s 14 winners will be awarded on January 25, 2017 at the award’s 75th celebration.

MediaStorm is honored to have been the first organization to receive the Alfred I. duPont Award for a web-based production in 2010 for Intended Consequences. In 2011, we received the Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism for Undesired.

This year, investigative journalism will be honored with nine awards across network and cable television, radio and local television stations, often in overlapping platforms. Four awards will go to local television news investigations: KXAN for documenting the police’s inaccurate racial profiling records; NBC Connecticut for uncovering widespread home foundation failures; WTHR-TV for exposing massive mismanagement and corruption at a popular charity; and WXIA 11Alive for spotlighting both a problem with the 911 emergency system and promoting potential solutions.

Public broadcasting will receive four awards: two for network hours will go to FRONTLINE’s Syria and Iraq reporting and NOVA’s dazzling yet disturbing look at the impact of global warming. Two silver batons will go to public radio programming:  Michigan Radio’s revealing coverage of the Flint water crisis and NPR/Colorado Public Radio’s exposé on the Army’s mistreatment of disabled veterans. The broadcast news networks will take home two duPonts: one goes to NBC News Dateline’s “The Cosby Accusers Speak;” the other for CBS News’s breaking coverage of the migrant crisis, respectively. Two documentaries will be honored with awards: one for HBO’s “A Girl in the River” and the second for ESPN Films’ “OJ: Made in America,” a nearly eight hour-long documentary.

The GroundTruth Project, an online nonprofit media organization, will win its first silver baton for Foreverstan: “The Girls’ School” and “Razia’s Way,” a hybrid film, digital and podcast look at Afghan women’s education. Another hybrid work, “Death by Fentanyl,” will also be the first duPont award for Fusion.

Congratulations to all the winners!

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United in the Fight: MediaStorm Tribute on World AIDS Day

Thirty years after the first cases of HIV, the World Health Organization estimates 36.7 million people worldwide are currently living with HIV/AIDS. Of these, 3.2 million are children under the age of 15. Today we commemorate World AIDS Day by remembering those who have succumbed to the virus and supporting our amazing collaborators working to treat and prevent this destructive disease.

AIDS and Family is Kristen Ashburn’s intimate portrait of African mothers, fathers and children being crushed by AIDS. Ashburn’s work connects us to these people deeply; we learn that only through such connection is hope possible.

The Global AIDS Interfaith Alliance, GAIA ,takes the medical breakthroughs of the developed world and brings them to The Far End of the Road. Their focus is one district in Malawi where 1 out of 6 adults are HIV-positive and healthcare can be hours away.

24,000 children under the age of five will die today, many from preventable diseases. In 2009, Save the Children launched the ambitious EVERY ONE campaign to work directly with individuals, communities and government’s to stem this tide of child mortality.

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The Ninth Floor included in IDFA’s DocLab Canon of Interactive Documentaries.

We are thrilled to announce that MediaStorm and Jessica Dimmock’s interactive documentary, The Ninth Floor, has been selected for inclusion in IDFA’s DocLab Canon of Interactive Documentaries–a celebration of the the best interactive documentaries of the past ten years.

Since 2007, IDFA DocLab, the new media program of the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, has showcased all kinds of projects, from web-documentaries, games, apps and virtual reality experiences to live performances, installations and other, often still undefined artforms. A decade later, many of these projects continue to inspire the future of documentary art. To mark the 10th anniversary edition of the program, IDFA invited an international selection of new media curators, decision makers, award-winning artists and producers to look back at the past decade to determine those projects that pushed boundaries and defined the new medium. We are proud to have The Ninth Floor included in this prestigious list.


In 2004, an apartment overlooking Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue housed thirty young people living in a vortex of drug addiction and despair. Jessica Dimmock entered this world and explored how these addicts fight to get clean, sink deeper into addiction, go to jail, start families, and struggle to survive in their own way.

Congratulations to Jessica and to all the other artists who continue to push forward this medium. And thank you to the IDFA DocLab for this great honor!


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POYi 74th Competition Now Open

Pictures of the Year International is proud to launch its 74th competition to honor the world’s premier documentary photography, photojournalism, and visual editing.


Pictures of the Year International is the oldest and most prestigious photojournalism program in the world.  When you enter POY, your work reaches out to citizens worldwide and becomes a part of visual history.

Please visit “Call for Entries” to learn more.

The online “Registration and Entry” platform opens on Wednesday, Dec. 14, here: https://entry.poyi.org/

Deadline for entry is Thursday, Jan. 12.


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