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From the 12th Annual Shorty Awards

Untold America

Finalist in YouTube

About this entry

Untold America is a documentary show published to the AJ+ YouTube channel and is part of our organization’s strategy to optimize for YouTube with consistent, regularly published shows. The mission of Untold America is to cover underrepresented, forgotten and misunderstood communities across the United States, and we often highlight the lives of American immigrants. Our short documentaries have covered a wide range of stories including: the origins of American adoptions from South Korea, the large community of Sikh semi-truckers in the U.S., the territory of Guam and the U.S. military’s role on the island, and the history of indigenous communities in Alaska.

Why does this entry deserve to win?

Untold America is bringing unique and underreported stories to the YouTube audience and engaging them in important conversations about the challenges faced by these American communities. Our series on the Deaf community sparked conversations about the accessibility of media content and how to ensure videos are produced to be accessible to everyone. This series also addressed the lack of proper training for police officers on interacting with the Deaf community and the tragic violence that can result. 

Our videos on Guam engaged people in important discussions around the island’s status, as well as the limited rights of people in all of the U.S. territories. This year our video on Sikh truckers generated enormous engagement around this growing immigrant group and provided context on why Punjabis are getting into the trucking industry after fleeing India and crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. 

Utilizing YouTube as our primarily publishing platform has allowed our team to grow our audience and engage with them in new ways. In 2019 we leveraged the premier function to allow our host to respond to questions from viewers--a conversation we’ve continued in the video comments. This is an important part of our strategy to engage with our viewers and answer additional questions about our content. 


In 2019 alone Untold America has had nearly 1.5 million views on YouTube and 7.5 million views for all of the short documentaries we’ve published. Our storytelling has won three regional Emmys, 4 Telly awards, and 5 awards from the Society of Professional Journalists. Our work has been screened in classrooms as an educational and historical resource and shared on social media by prominent politicians including Bernie Sanders.


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