Over the course of five years, our team and you, our audience, have grown Nanook into a major independent media organization. Today it’s time to take a substantial step forward.
It all started with one multimedia project. Berta Tilmantaitė and Artūras Morozovas, two photojournalists, regularly traveled to the Panevėžys Women's Correctional Facility to understand and report about life there. Furthermore, they wanted to find out why we, as a society that has historically experienced both persecution and imprisonment, would want others to experience such circumstances today.
During the formative years of Nanook, our team grew as did the range of our topics: we published stories about Lithuanian Paralympians and Russian dissidents who took refuge in Lithuania and created a mini-series about a modern expedition to Siberia. As a team, we launched Nyla, the first professional Lithuanian podcast, in which we published stories relevant to the #MeToo movement; we documented the experiences of members of the Lithuanian Roma community; we published interviews with Jonas Mekas, Irena Veisaitė, and Rūta Meilutyte; and we started conversations about mental health. The Lithuanian version of this podcast was equally supplemented by the Russian one, which showed the diverse experiences of the Russian-speaking world.
What started as an experiment by two journalists has become an organization that unites a couple of dozen media professionals. Podcast listeners have showed their support by financing our team’s work with more than 50,000 euros. Nanook has been analyzed as a successful example by the European Journalism Center and the US Poynter Institute. The team’s journalists have spoken at conferences in Peru, Kosovo, Moldova, and Ukraine and won awards in the United States and the United Kingdom.
While we are proud of what we have achieved, we now realize that there’s a need for us to change in order to meet the expectations of our readers. We have updated our website and made it a more fitting space for more than 200 pieces of content that we have already published and for those that we will publish in the future. We also said goodbye to the Nanook name.
The latter decision needs to be explained in more detail. The Nanook name was an allusion to the first documentary in the history of film, “Nanook of the North.” That name paid tribute to the hero of this film, Nanook, and his wife, Nyla, after whom the podcast was named. At the time, it seemed like a good way of opening up to a wider culture and spreading the core idea of our journalism: learning about people’s experiences that are different from our own. However, when we delved into the history of colonization and began to understand how Inuit communities were exploited by Westerners, including the problematic director of “Nanook of the North,” we decided to abandon that name and commit to a more analytic stance towards the topic of cultural appropriation in the Lithuanian media.
We now present NARA, this new space for journalism.
From now on, our Lithuanian podcast will be published under the name NARA, and the Russian podcast will gain autonomy: you will be able to find it under the name CoMeta.
Along with the new website, we are expanding the range of formats in which we present stories. We added a section for articles, where we will publish interviews, features, and opinions. Photo stories have a separate category too – it’s a genre that we want to nurture and grow in Lithuania. Moreover, we are looking for new authors who want to be published in both of these formats. If you are one, then please write to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will additionally have a separate section for video stories. Maneuverability between different types of media will be of importance to our team. For example, some podcast episodes will be transcribed and available in text format.
This also means that we’ll maneuver between languages: at the request of many of you, we will publish Russian podcast transcriptions translated into Lithuanian. This will also make them accessible to people with hearing impairment. Furthermore, the website has its own language environments: before, everything was presented as one feed; now Lithuanian, English, and Russian pieces of content exist in their own sections.
Along with this new beginning, we would like to publicly announce the nine principles that guide our work:
- We do not compromise on journalistic ethics.
- In addition to presenting the issues, we discuss possible solutions.
- Our journalism has, and always will be, available to everyone for free.
- Supporting us financially means you’re contributing to independent journalism.
- We maintain a close relationship with our community of readers and listeners.
- Out of respect for our interviewees and audience, we have chosen a comments-free web environment.
- We are independent from political parties and their sphere of influence.
- We accept advertising money only from responsible, ethical businesses.
- We dedicate a part of our time to educational work.
NARA’s topical focus remains unchanged: we are interested in social issues, social upheavals, and the common humanity found in them.
But most importantly, we are interested in what we do not know. Every journalistic topic begins with the unknown and a desire to investigate it. But journalism also promises that it will pass on knowledge and news to the reader. We invite you to meet the unknown: to delve into every topic with open eyes, with respect for the person at the center of the story and with the opportunity to be surprised. We invite you to dive in together with us.
The NARA team