Killing Coal Country is an award-winning documentary about how the recent decline of the coal industry is impacting mining communities in Appalachia.
Economic factors and government regulations have all but destroyed the Appalachian coal industry. Over 50,000 jobs have been lost across the coalfields of West Virginia, eastern Kentucky, and southwest Virginia.
Thousands of Appalachian families are in a crisis. There simply aren’t any other jobs around that pay as well as the coal industry jobs. Coal miners who once earned $70,000 a year or more are now fighting for jobs that pay half or a third of that.
Cities and towns are struggling with multi-million dollar budget shortfalls due to declining revenue, a growing drug epidemic, and high unemployment.
Central Appalachia is the only region of the U.S. that has failed to recover from the Great Recession.
All too often we hear of the negative effects of coal and sensationalized tales of Appalachia. It’s time for a documentary about the “other side of the story”…a story about a people and a region that are often ignored and misunderstood.
Killing Coal Country began as a project for one of my broadcasting classes at East Tennessee State University. But after seeing how devastated the region is, I decided to make it something more. This is a story that needs to be told and deserves to be more than just another school project.
This is an ambitious project. I am mostly working alone, using my own equipment and filming on my own time. But I am dedicated to telling this story. I will do whatever it takes because I believe the folks of Central Appalachia deserve nothing less.
Slater is a senior at East Tennessee State University, majoring in broadcasting and political science. He currently lives in Kingsport, TN and works for the City of Bristol, TN.