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From Charlottesville to North Korea: Filming Social Change with Josh Davis

November 17, 2017

A still from Charlottesville: Race and Terror with Josh Davis (on phone). CREDIT: Josh Davis/VICE Media.

Podcast music: Blindhead and Mick Lexington.

DEVIN STEWART: I'm Devin Stewart here at Carnegie Council, and today I am sitting down and speaking with Josh Davis. He is an Emmy award-winning documentarian and an educator as well, and he has most recently been involved with a very well-known film for Vice News about Charlottesville, the white nationalists, and the rally which took place over the summer. The title of that is Charlottesville: Race and Terror. We are going to talk about Charlottesville all the way to North Korea today with Josh.

Josh, thank you so much for coming to Carnegie Council.

JOSH DAVIS: Thank you for having me.

DEVIN STEWART: It is a real pleasure to talk with you about a medium that we do not always talk about on the podcast here. Tell us, how did you get into making documentaries? It seems like you have a kind of mission or a sense of principle behind your projects. How did you get into it, and what are your guiding principles?

JOSH DAVIS: I have always been interested in and really invested in journalism and documentaries. I did an undergraduate degree in journalism. I did a graduate degree in documentary journalism. I have always had a big passion for documentary filmmaking, so I have always been drawn to documentary film.

DEVIN STEWART: Why documentary in particular?

JOSH DAVIS: The format, just being able to record what is going on around me. I think I am a very visual person. Visual storytelling has always had a pull toward me. I have always been drawn toward it.

DEVIN STEWART: It seems like your projects deal with international issues, they deal with the news, they deal with politics and society. They also deal with social justice. You also describe yourself on your bio as an educator, which is great. Why do you have this common motif of social justice in your work?

JOSH DAVIS: Being in journalism, reading the news, I was a big fan of the documentary The War Room growing up, and being immersed inside of a campaign and seeing how a documentary could do that, to answer your first question a little bit more.

DEVIN STEWART: So the impact of it?

JOSH DAVIS: Yes. Exactly. One of the big things with my work is that I have always wanted to have impact and try to effect change. That is a big motivating factor in the work that I do.

I have been drawn to print, and I have been drawn in some ways—well, I have not been drawn to radio as much. When I worked at National Public Radio (NPR) I was like, "Man, I really want to work in radio because you don't have to carry around so much gear."

DEVIN STEWART: Right. So it frees you up.

JOSH DAVIS: But I have always been drawn to the immersive qualities of visual storytelling and documentary.

So, yes, as an educator I love teaching it as well. I work as an adjunct, and I have taught at a handful of universities throughout the city.

DEVIN STEWART: You are teaching at New York University (NYU), Columbia, and City University of New York (CUNY), I believe.

JOSH DAVIS: Yes, and this semester at The New School.

DEVIN STEWART: Congratulations.

JOSH DAVIS: Thank you.

DEVIN STEWART: When you say you want to accelerate or have an impact on social change, what do you mean by that, and change toward what end? What are you trying to achieve?

JOSH DAVIS: I hate to say anything that would feed the people that would want to call out "fake news," but there is a lot of bad journalism out there. It is not fake, but there is a lot of reporting out there that could use more depth, could use more time, could use a different approach. That is something I strive for in my work. Even if I am making something short, I want it to have some depth to it.

Talking about Charlottesville, in all of the work that I do I take this long-view approach: What can this be? What does this have to be, and then what could this be? With Charlottesville, we thought this was going to be a short package, three to five minutes long, but when we got there and once we did our interview with Chris Cantwell, once we started seeing the scenes unfold, we knew it was going to be something much larger.

DEVIN STEWART: How could you tell?

JOSH DAVIS: There was a story taking place. It was unfolding right in front of our eyes.

DEVIN STEWART: The importance.

JOSH DAVIS: And we had access to a specific character who we could follow on a journey.

DEVIN STEWART: Chris Cantwell.

JOSH DAVIS: Exactly, Chris Cantwell.

DEVIN STEWART: You just got back from seeing his trial?

JOSH DAVIS: We did just get back from seeing his trial, right. So the story is not quite over because he is in jail right now awaiting—

DEVIN STEWART: Tell the listeners who Chris Cantwell is, for those who do not know.

JOSH DAVIS: Chris Cantwell is an alt-right white nationalist. I do not think he would quite say "neo-Nazi," but he definitely hates Jewish people, too. Chris Cantwell is a white nationalist who has a somewhat successful podcast. He has got thousands of listeners and a paywall up on his website that people subscribe to, and he is actually podcasting from jail right now. He was one of the featured speakers of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville back in August, which as we know turned very violent.

DEVIN STEWART: And he is charged with a felony?

JOSH DAVIS: He was originally charged with three felonies for allegedly macing people at the Friday night torch rally.

DEVIN STEWART: In August.

JOSH DAVIS: Right.

DEVIN STEWART: It is ironic, because in your film he is featured getting maced.

JOSH DAVIS: Twice.

DEVIN STEWART: Twice. He did not like it.

JOSH DAVIS: No, he did not. He did not like it at all.

DEVIN STEWART: Tell me about talking to these characters. It sounds like you are trying to get the truth out to the public—I am trying to paraphrase what your project is, your big project, your meta-project.

JOSH DAVIS: Right.

DEVIN STEWART: How do you feel about interviewing people who describe themselves as white nationalists or other morally questionable monikers like that?

JOSH DAVIS: It is not easy. I have seen documentaries about the Ku Klux Klan where people go in and it is very aggressive, and there can be these very aggressive exchanges back and forth. It is sort of a different brand of journalism.

When I am approaching a subject like that I just try to wear my journalist hat as much as possible and say: "All right, this is my approach." I do want to raise awareness to the fact that there is a rise in white supremicism in the United States. How do I do that? It is through my reporting. And how do I report? Well, I report much the way I report another story, doing an interview where we ask questions and give our subjects time to respond.

DEVIN STEWART: Do people ever question giving people like that a voice in your films?

JOSH DAVIS: All the time.

DEVIN STEWART: How do you respond?

JOSH DAVIS: There are a couple of ways that have come up that I think are particularly relevant. I think one is the fact that the unfortunate side of this alt-right movement that we are seeing in the United States is that they have their own ecosystems online, on boards like 4chan. They have their own podcasts.

Where the media comes in, it is our role to show people, "Hey, this is going on," and to raise awareness in the hopes of effecting change. Without us, they are not going to go away. Elle Reeve, the correspondent who I work with, likes to say, "They're not going to just die on the vine if we don't report on them," and I think that is a good way of looking at it. It is a scary way, but it is true.

DEVIN STEWART: Your Vice video on Charlottesville has gotten more than 2 million views.

JOSH DAVIS: Sixty.

DEVIN STEWART: I guess the one that I saw, maybe it is a copy of it.

JOSH DAVIS: Yes, I think that's the YouTube video. But I think that our communications team has calculated [that total views are] close to 60 million.

DEVIN STEWART: Congratulations.

JOSH DAVIS: Thank you.

DEVIN STEWART: What has been the feedback? Anything bad, anything good?

JOSH DAVIS: As a team we did three panels in September, one at Columbia University, one at CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, and one at NYU Journalism. By and large, the feedback there, just in the flesh, people coming up to us were like: "Thank you. Thank you for making this. This has had a really strong impact on me."

For me, especially as an educator, too, having taught at NYU, I had a student come up to me and be like: "I was majoring in something else, but I saw your film, and now I'm majoring in journalism. I want to do this." It was that moment where it is just like, "Oh, my god, you touched my heart." Coming both from the journalism angle as a producer and coming from a teacher, a professor angle, that is exactly where you want to be.

DEVIN STEWART: Your art is extremely compelling. I want to ask you sort of a cheating question. For those who cannot take your class at CUNY or The New School or NYU or Columbia, what is the biggest piece of advice you have for an aspiring documentarian?

JOSH DAVIS: There are a couple of things. One is just believe in your ideas and see them through. When you are following a story, find a central character and follow that character wherever he or she may go. That came up a couple of times in conversations about, "Hey, why did you get in the van?"

DEVIN STEWART: I remember that. That looked really intense. Can you give the scene to our listeners?

JOSH DAVIS: Yes. There is a scene in the film where Chris Cantwell is running into one of the Nazi vans.

DEVIN STEWART: His people, his posse.

JOSH DAVIS: Yes. They had rented out these big, white, I think 12-passenger or something, 16-passenger vans to transport the white supremacists back and forth through Charlottesville. After they got kicked out of Emancipation Park because the rally turned violent that Saturday in Charlottesville in August, we were like: "All right. Let's run and follow him into the van and keep filming," because it is just that instinct of follow your story. You hear him, and [he says]: "Oh, my god. Vice is in the van. Vice is in the van." We had gotten the access with him through the interview the day before. We had followed him up to that point. There was really no reason to stop following him.

DEVIN STEWART: That was the interview at the picnic table where he is explaining his philosophy?

JOSH DAVIS: Exactly.

DEVIN STEWART: So you felt that getting into the van was a risk you were willing to take based on what you had learned earlier?

JOSH DAVIS: It was a calculated risk. Looking back on it, I might have sat in a different seat closer to the exit because he was pissed that we were in there.

DEVIN STEWART: Were you holding the camera?

JOSH DAVIS: One of our directors of photography (DP), Orlando de Guzman, made it in the van. Zach Caldwell, our other DP, was outside the van. He had just missed it. So I was actually shooting second camera with my iPhone from my position in the back corner of the van.

DEVIN STEWART: Okay. And your reporter Elle Reeve was very clever because she had turned around and started to interview The Daily Stormer guy.

JOSH DAVIS: Exactly.

DEVIN STEWART: Very interesting tactic.

JOSH DAVIS: Exactly. And one of the best pieces of advice I got when I was getting my Master's degree—this is back about five, six years ago at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, one my mentors there was like, "Make like water," like move to the path of least resistance.

DEVIN STEWART: Bruce Lee. He said the same thing: "Be like water, my friend."

JOSH DAVIS: Bruce Lee and Pat Davison.

DEVIN STEWART: Wise people.

JOSH DAVIS: But at the same time he is like, "You know, follow your subject."

This is a side note, but I was doing this story with him—it was my first year in grad school—about this guy who was a cowboy, a real-life cowboy, and he was lost in North Carolina. He had just gotten baptized, and I filmed his baptism. He is in all his cowboy gear, and he has to change.

He was coaching me on the story, so he was there for that particular shoot, and he is like, "Why are you not in the changing room with him?"

I was like, "Well, he's naked, he's getting changed."

He's like, "No, no. Follow your guy."

DEVIN STEWART: Wow.

JOSH DAVIS: I'm like, "Okay." So I got in the room with him, and he is in his drawers and stuff.

He's like, "Yeah, no problem. You can film. Just keep it above the . . ."

DEVIN STEWART: Keep it decent.

JOSH DAVIS: Keep it above the waist, I guess. I do not remember what he said. But it is this idea of following your story but also going through the path of least resistance.

When we jumped in the van, Chris Cantwell was freaking out, but he also seems a little bit like he is putting on a show for some of the other neo-Nazis inside the van. Meanwhile, this guy Azzmador, the writer for The Daily Stormer, was being pretty receptive toward us and talking to us a lot. He wanted us to film with him, so Elle, exactly, like that, her instinct was just turn to him, "Hey, so what's your deal?"

DEVIN STEWART: I thought that was a conflict management move. It was a way to diffuse the situation: "Oh, my god, this is a very tense situation. Start asking some nice questions. What do you think?"

JOSH DAVIS: Exactly.

DEVIN STEWART: Wow. Do you have any other advice for the people who want to do your job in the future before we get to some of your other work here?

JOSH DAVIS: I would just recommend to people who are starting out or even people mid-career—and this is something that I did mid-career—give yourself an opportunity to build your portfolio, and build it up around the type of work that you really want to be doing. That can inevitably lead you to doing the type of work that you want to do.

It is not always chasing Nazis and doing feature films or 20-minute films every single time. For me, it is not, either. I am doing still plenty of five-minute videos that we produce in a couple of days or a short turnaround.

DEVIN STEWART: To pay the bills?

JOSH DAVIS: Pay the bills, or sometimes it is just, there is news that just has to happen quickly, and that is something at Vice News Tonight that we will report on. But by and large, I am in a place where what I like to bring to the show is this long-form approach for documentary storytelling and apply that in a newsroom setting.

DEVIN STEWART: I would like to talk about a couple of other projects today. We are the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, so a few more international projects. One is called The War Comes Home that you worked on for CNN, incredibly touching theme of American veterans coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan and adjusting to life back in the United States. Can you tell our listeners a little bit about how that came about, and what did you learn from it?

JOSH DAVIS: I was brought in to support MediaStorm for that one. That was a partnership with Soledad O'Brien's team and MediaStorm, largely working with Tim McLaughlin, who is the lead producer and editor and all-around really good person working on that project, and Brian Storm, the founder of the company and the executive producer (EP). That was a really fortunate project to work on because I had just finished up a larger project with NPR.

DEVIN STEWART: What was that?

JOSH DAVIS: "Planet Money Makes a T-shirt."

DEVIN STEWART: We should talk about that, too.

JOSH DAVIS: We will talk about that.

But I had just finished that project, and I was looking for the next good thing to work on. MediaStorm offered me to come in and work on this project about veterans.

The takeaway from that project was not as much the documentary storytelling as it was really just learning about what the film set out to teach, which was about how difficult it is for veterans coming home and readjusting to society with the trauma that they faced overseas, in this case in Iraq and Afghanistan with the two veterans that we followed.

On a daily basis I was going through these vérité scenes, these sort of day-in-the-life scenes, of veterans who wanted to kill themselves, who were suicidal, one more than the other. But the one who was a little worse off, I was going through scenes of him playing video games at 9:00 a.m. and playing video games at noon and 2:00. You could see the sun going down in the window behind him, and he is just the whole time drinking from a bottle of wine. I could not quite tell how many bottles of wine it was.

DEVIN STEWART: How do you get the trust from these people to be there all that time and film everything they are doing?

JOSH DAVIS: This is the biggest piece of advice I give to my class; it is the approach. It is letting your subjects know, letting the people that you are documenting know that you are there to help them tell their stories, more from sort of an anthropological angle and not from this sort of—I do not want to say nightly news because I do work on a nightly news show, but I think the approach advice is a little different too in terms of what I am trying to describe.

DEVIN STEWART: Not "sensationalist," is that the right word?

JOSH DAVIS: Yes, not sensationalist and not just this quick-hit journalism where we are going to parachute in and we are going to tell this story really quickly and then get out and never see this person again.

At MediaStorm, the approach is very much long-form, where if it takes two years to finish a project, it will take two years. I think they just released a project that was seven years in the making. To the respect of the people that you are documenting, the project is not done until you feel right about it, until the story is told.

In terms of the approach, it is really being very upfront with your subjects right away and saying: "You know, let's talk about what you think this story is. This is how I want to approach it. I want to spend some time with you and collect the visual evidence that I need to sort of help you tell your story and do justice to it." It usually starts with a long interview. I have worked on some projects where the interviews have been three hours long.

DEVIN STEWART: So it is establishing rapport and a kind of understanding and trust.

JOSH DAVIS: Exactly, establishing trust and rapport.

DEVIN STEWART: Sincerity.

You mentioned "Planet Money Makes a T-shirt." It seems like T-shirts are always the device to teach people about globalization. There is a famous book you probably know by Pietra Rivoli.

JOSH DAVIS: She was an advisor on the project.

DEVIN STEWART: Oh, wonderful. It is a great book. It is a classic.

JOSH DAVIS: We did not completely steal her idea.

DEVIN STEWART: Good. Well, fantastic.

JOSH DAVIS: The Travels of a T-shirt in the Global Economy: An Economist Examines the Markets, Power, and Politics of World Trade.

DEVIN STEWART: I still have my copy on my bookshelf. I am glad that she was in on it. And that was for NPR, and that won the Emmy?

JOSH DAVIS: We won an Emmy, a DuPont, and about 10 other awards. That was a pretty good one for all of us, for everything.

DEVIN STEWART: Amazing. It looks like a multimedia, interactive-style product. Do you call it a "product"? Is that the right word?

JOSH DAVIS: Project.

DEVIN STEWART: Because maybe there is also a film that goes along with it, but when I went to the website you were able to click through, and you hear characters who are representing different pieces of the global supply chain, essentially, right?

JOSH DAVIS: Right.

DEVIN STEWART: You tell the listeners. That is just my perspective.

JOSH DAVIS: It is an interactive piece of journalism. More and more with online journalism we are trying to create different experiences and new approaches for storytelling. With this project, from the very beginning we talked about whether this should be a 30-minute documentary? Should this be a text-and-photo, like New York Times "Snow Fall"-type project? What is the best way to tell this story?

DEVIN STEWART: What is a "Snow Fall" project?

JOSH DAVIS: "Snow Fall" was a New York Times project that came out I think in 2011—I might have the year wrong—but it came out several years ago. [Editor's note: "Snow Fall" was published in 2012.] Within the journalism world it broke the community a little bit, and people were like, "Wow, this is like this new, fresh, innovative way of telling stories." It went on to win a Pulitzer. It was a John Branch story about backcountry skiers. But they combined text with these graphics and video in this very artful way that immersed readers into the story in a way they would not normally have access to with just text. I think it got a lot more exposure, not just in the journalism world, but it was blowing up on my Facebook feed from non-journalists, from friends who just were like, "Wow! This is a really great way to tell a story."

That project sparked this idea in journalism that newspapers, radio stations like NPR, whoever it is, there are new ways in telling stories out there because of the web, because of video, because of video on the web. That really was not the case 10 years ago. You did not have the technology for it; you did not have the broadband for it. It just was not—

DEVIN STEWART: Technically possible.

JOSH DAVIS: Yes. It was not happening yet.

With "Planet Money," we talked about "how do we want to best tell this story?" We wanted to make something that was really accessible to our audience but also video-driven because it was such a visual story and there were so many characters involved. What we did was turn it into a five-part video-driven series.

DEVIN STEWART: Where did you go around the world?

JOSH DAVIS: We went around the world, yes. I went to Bangladesh and sent a team to Indonesia. I went to Colombia. Where else did we go? We went to the Mississippi Delta to see cotton being harvested.

DEVIN STEWART: So the cotton starts in Mississippi, then goes to be turned into fabric, right?

JOSH DAVIS: The cotton seed comes from a Monsanto lab, which I think we filmed in Wisconsin. That seed is then planted in the Mississippi Delta. It goes to Indonesia, where it is spun into yarn. That yarn then goes to Bangladesh, where it is turned into a T-shirt. Some of that yarn also went to Colombia, where they made—we had a men's shirt and a woman's shirt. For whatever reason, the woman's shirt was made in Colombia. Then it is transported back on a container ship back to the United States.

DEVIN STEWART: Sold where?

JOSH DAVIS: Then it goes to a warehouse, and then it is sold to whoever orders it. And the biggest price in all of that is the actually UPS ground shipping.

DEVIN STEWART: The biggest cost?

JOSH DAVIS: The biggest cost of the T-shirt is just getting it from the warehouse to you.

DEVIN STEWART: I remember from Rivoli's book that there is also another step which is—if I remember correctly; it was a while ago that I read that book—where the T-shirt is then turned into a used thing that goes into another market. Did you guys look at that at all?

JOSH DAVIS: We looked at it. We decided that we would stop it when the T-shirt gets to—the section was actually called "You"—the consumers that started the project actually with a Kickstarter campaign. I do not need to explain that.

DEVIN STEWART: What was the deal with that squirrel on the T-shirt? Was it just cute?

JOSH DAVIS: The squirrel? There is a concept—animal spirits—in economics and it is sort of like economics are fueled by the animal spirits in us.

DEVIN STEWART: Keynes, right?

JOSH DAVIS: Yes. So it was just this play on, it was a squirrel holding a martini.

DEVIN STEWART: You guys were being clever. Okay.

JOSH DAVIS: Instead of an olive, it is an acorn.

DEVIN STEWART: That's great.

We have time for a couple more questions, Josh. Thank you so much for your time.

North Korea is in the news a lot, and you have done another fascinating piece on photographs basically depicting daily life in North Korea. The photographer is David Guttenfelder for the International Center of Photography. Can you tell us a little bit about what you learned about North Korea from that project?

JOSH DAVIS: Sure. A lot. That was another project I worked on with MediaStorm. It was the first project I worked on with MediaStorm.

Looping back to approach as well, Brian Storm interviewed David Guttenfelder for three hours inside the studio. It was my job to go through those three hours of interview and learn about David Guttenfelder's career and his experiences in North Korea and then go through thousands of photographs that he had allowed us to use for this video for the International Center of Photography.

It is one of the pieces that worked that I go back to a lot, especially when I teach, because it does two different things that I think are really helpful in sort of understanding journalism and understanding storytelling: one is the fact that David Guttenfelder is talking about his approach. It is very similar to some of the things we have been talking about. There is a part where he takes a picture of an empty road in North Korea. The North Korean minder is like, "Why are you taking a picture of the empty road?"

And he is like, "Well, I grew up in Iowa, and there was traffic, and this is different, so that is interesting to me."

He is taking pictures of daily life and not just the sensational war kind of stuff that he had been doing before, which is not to say what he was filming before was sensational, but he was not taking a sensationalized approach to North Korea; he was taking this "how can I shoot North Korea, how can I take pictures in North Korea that can create a connection to audiences outside of there to create some sort of bond," because he says in the video that right now there is nothing. There is nothing going into or coming out of there, so there are really no ways for people to understand and see North Korea as—

DEVIN STEWART: Connect?

JOSH DAVIS: Yes, like there are people living there.

DEVIN STEWART: That was his message, right? Guttenfelder's message was the humanity of the project itself.

JOSH DAVIS: Exactly. What he was trying to show is what I learned from working on the project. I did not know they had so many water parks in North Korea; I did not know they had so many shopping malls and escalators. Just sort of seeing his journey through there and learning that he had set up an AP bureau inside North Korea when he was with AP is just fascinating, that all of that was able to happen and that we were able to see that, then the fact that once they set up a 3G phone network he was able to Instagram from the street and just send things live was pretty bold.

DEVIN STEWART: I am curious about whether it was challenging to make a film about photographs. Did that occur to you at all? From a person who does not make films, that seemed to me, "Wow." That was a question in my mind when I was watching it. You were successful at doing it certainly, but did that occur to you?

JOSH DAVIS: It did, yes. That definitely occurred to me. That is the other part of why I use this video in class because you always have some limitations when you are working. This was for a client, for the International Center of Photography, and working with photographs, so here is this opportunity to make something that is photo-driven and not video-driven. But it was challenging. When I speak with my classes about it, it always comes down to organization: How do you organize the visuals that you have over the themes that are being discussed? What visuals do you need to help tell the story, and how do you place your themes over some sort of story arc?

With David Guttenfelder, that three-hour interview, I spent at least a couple of weeks transcribing and chopping that down into something that resembled a story. What came out was: "Here's this guy who was a war photographer. He got sent to Korea on this mission to film reunions. It sparked this interest of his in filming this more humanitarian-type approach of documenting North Korea. And then he started learning all these things about himself and about North Koreans." There is a takeaway to that.

On my end: "Now that I know that is the structure, how can I start grouping together these thousands of photographs into a narrative that is going to help tell that?" So it was really just creating these different groups of photos and ruthlessly going through and eliminating so many good pictures. It just comes down to theme; there were photographs that were clearly meant to be shown as like propaganda, set-up events for him to film, and then were pictures where it was just daily life things. Then there were pictures where he is just traveling, and it is like transportation, and there is location stuff, based on, "All right. He's in the capital."

Then it is just sort of like: "How do we put those together to best tell the story?" That was a big challenge there. When you are working with video, it is a little different, because you have scenes. It is like: "Well, we can play scenes like in Charlottesville chronologically. We could play scenes out of order in other types of films." But with video you are working with scenes; here you are trying to build some sort of scene but with pictures in the Guttenfelder video.

DEVIN STEWART: Thank you for sharing your tricks of the trade, the art of the craft, Josh.

I like to end these conversations with a what's-in-store-for-the-future question. It is maybe a simplistic way to end these things, but it usually kind of works.

The media is in a really complicated, complex state right now. The president is calling mainstream press "fake news." Meanwhile, The New York Times is having record interest in getting subscriptions. People are reading much more news than ever; they have more access to it. There was just a segment recently, on NPR I think, about the state of how journalists are seen in the public eye. They are seen as suspicious sometimes and not always trusted.

What do you make of where media is headed?

JOSH DAVIS: That is a good question. It is really reassuring that people are consuming media in the way that you are describing, that people are really engaged more than they have been. For my part, I am looking to apply this type of approach that I have been applying throughout my career where I am just establishing rapport and trust with my subjects and then hopefully in turn creating a project that people will trust and connect with and hopefully have a takeaway where it can effect change in a positive way.

I would like to see more outlets doing that. I think Vice News Tonight, the show I am working on right now, is doing a really good job simply because they are doing on-the-ground reporting. In the office on our TVs we have all the major cable networks on in this four-screen split screen. You have the headline bar, the ticker, and you have pundits, and they are always interviewing people, but you do not have as much investigative reporting, in-depth reporting, seeing actual faces of people affected by the issues. That is one thing that our show is always consistently doing, sending people out: "Okay, we're on the ground in Texas. Something happened. We're on the ground in Las Vegas. We're on the ground in California. We're on the ground in Charlottesville."

We are not just on the ground for a day. We are there as long as we need to be there to best tell that story, at least for the resources that we have to do that. I would like to see journalism do more of that because there needs to be more of a connection made between journalists and the communities they are reporting on. It does not always have to be a long-form documentary, but with the right approach you can form better connections. So that is my hope for the industry.

DEVIN STEWART: I think you are doing your part to help with that, Josh. Thank you so much.

JOSH DAVIS: Thank you.

DEVIN STEWART: Josh Davis is an award-winning documentary journalist and educator. He works with The New York Times, NPR, CNN, and lots of other outlets.

Josh, great to speak with you today. Thank you.

JOSH DAVIS: Thank you very much.

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