Media Contact: Donna Williams, WNET
Press Materials: thirteen.org/pressroom
The five part series is available online via NJTV, Chasing the Dream, and PBS NewsHour
Atlantic City, New Jersey, the iconic seaside resort and home to a legendary boardwalk along the Jersey Shore, became the first city outside of Nevada to legalize casinos in 1976. But by 2014, four of Atlantic City’s 12 casinos had closed, with the economic future of the remaining casinos, those still working there, and the city itself hanging precariously in the balance.
Almost one year ago, Producer Lauren Feeney, working with NJTV and Chasing the Dream, WNET’s multi-platform initiative on poverty and opportunity, began a unique effort to chronicle – in their own words — the struggle of the nearly 8,000 casino workers affected by the city’s financial downturn. The result is Voices from Atlantic City, a five part digital-series that tells the stories of the rise and fall of the once-thriving gambling and entertainment mecca. It is now available on NJTVonline.org and PBS.org on the Chasing The Dream and PBS NewsHour pages.
Unlike most local television coverage of the Atlantic City economic crisis, each installment tells the story of the city through in-depth first person accounts of the card dealers, cocktail waitresses, construction workers, and others who have lost their jobs or are hanging on to them by a thread, yet still manage to have hope for the troubled city. The five part digital program is being excerpted on NJTV News and will also be assembled into a full length documentary for broadcast.
Part 1: The Promise
In this first episode of Voices from Atlantic City, we learn about the heady optimism as Atlantic City pioneered the idea of using casino gaming to revitalize a depressed urban community.
Part 2: The Heyday
The 80s were the days of glitz and glamour, Donald Trump and disco. In this episode, we meet a cocktail waitress, a pit boss, a hair stylist, and a drug dealer who tell us what life was like at a time when the opportunities seemed limitless.
Part 3: The Decline
By 2014, the fallout from the economic crash of 2008 and other factors resulted in the closing of four casinos, costing 8,000 people their jobs. In this episode of Voices from Atlantic City, we learn about the social, political, natural, and economic factors that lead to the closings, and hear from the workers themselves about the day they learned the doors were closing.
Part 4: The Aftermath
In this episode, we explore the difficult road ahead for those affected by the closing of the casinos, as we follow former workers to a welfare-to-work program, a food bank, and a sheriff’s sale. Today, with the casino closings, Atlantic County, now has the highest rate of home foreclosures in the country.
Part 5: The Future
In this final chapter of our series, as the summer of 2016 approaches, workers at the Trump Taj Mahal attempt to save one of the last vestiges of the “good old days,” while others search for new directions for themselves and the city’s economy.
Voices from Atlantic City was produced and edited for NJTV by Lauren Feeney in conjunction with the Chasing the Dream initiative. Co-producer and Camera: Cameron Hickey. Additional Camera: Joshua Z. Weinstein. Program Consultants: Nina Chaudry, Ed Hersh. Consulting Executive Producer: Stephen Segaller. Executive in Charge: John Servidio
Chasing the Dream: Poverty and Opportunity in America is a coordinated, multi-platform public media initiative from WNET that provides breadth, depth, and context and a deeper understanding of both the causes of poverty and the creation of jobs and opportunities at all levels and institutions of our society. Since the beginning of 2015, it has produced close to 100 reports and segments across all platforms of public media – national documentaries on PBS, news reports on the PBS NewsHour and PBS NewsHour Weekend, dozens of segments on THIRTEEN’s daily public affairs and issues program, MetroFocus, Long Island Business Report and NJTV News, as well as digital and online reports, partnerships with public radio, and companion pieces on PBS member stations across the country.
Major funding for Chasing the Dream: Poverty and Opportunity in America is provided by The JPB Foundation. Additional funding is provided by Ford Foundation.
WNET is America’s flagship PBS station and parent company of THIRTEEN and WLIW21. WNET also operates NJTV, the statewide public media network in New Jersey. Through its broadcast channels, three cable services (KidsThirteen, Create and World) and online streaming sites, WNET brings quality arts, education and public affairs programming to more than five million viewers each week. WNET produces and presents such acclaimed PBS series as Nature, Great Performances, American Masters, PBS NewsHour Weekend, Charlie Rose and a range of documentaries, children’s programs, and local news and cultural offerings. WNET’s groundbreaking series for children and young adults include Get the Math, Oh Noah! and Cyberchase as well as Mission US, the award-winning interactive history game. WNET highlights the tri-state’s unique culture and diverse communities through NYC-ARTS, Reel 13, NJTV News with Mary Alice Williams and MetroFocus, the daily multi-platform news magazine focusing on the New York region. In addition, WNET produces online-only programming including the award-winning series about gender identity, First Person, and an intergenerational look at tech and pop culture, The Chatterbox with Kevin and Grandma Lill. In 2015, THIRTEEN launched Passport, an online streaming service which allows members to see new and archival THIRTEEN and PBS programming anytime, anywhere: www.thirteen.org/passport.