Bringing a Tough Subject to Light: WRAL.com Original Series “This Is Human Trafficking”

WRALcom Original: This Is Human TraffickingA new WRAL.com Original dedicated to exposing the issue of human trafficking debuted on Sunday, July 14, 2019. Created by the team at CBC Audience Development, the 5-part series “This Is Human Trafficking” is now streaming on WRAL.com.

“A year ago I knew very little about human trafficking and all the forms it takes right here in our community,” said AUD Production Manager Anita Normanly, who helped put the series together.  “If you’ve heard mentions of trafficking in the news lately but don’t really know how people could find themselves in that situation, or you don’t know how illicit massage parlors, foreign labor workers and door-to-door sales are related to trafficking, watch this important series and learn to recognize the signs.”

She worked alongside AUD Digital Content Producer Cliff Bumgardner on the production.

“Last August when the first whispers of this project began, I had much the same view of trafficking as I think most people do: it was something I knew only through what I’d seen on TV – this big, dramatic, violent thing that didn’t really have a face,” he said.  “But through the help and patient education of experts from Project No Rest, NCCASA, and so many others, I began to see the reality behind the headlines and learn just how vast and complicated trafficking can be. I think Anita had a similar experience, and it made us realize there was a great need for a resource that would open people’s eyes and allow them to step past the myths that so often surround the topic.”

The pair became impassioned about the project, which evolved from their work on a related CBC endeavor.  It began with one of CBC’s sales staffers, Liz Kline.

“The series came about in an unusual way,” Normanly explained.  “Last August Liz Kline’s client, Project No Rest, came to us to produce training videos. They wanted us to dramatize the stories of people caught up in human trafficking.”

Kline had headed up a campaign for CBC called Project No Rest, which ran from January 2017 to September 2018, to raise awareness about human trafficking.  The work ended up garnering a MidSouth Regional Emmy for the WRAL-TV team for Community/Public Service (PSA) Campaign in 2018.

The connection with Project No Rest continued, with the request for the training videos.

Cliff Bumgardner & Anita Normanly

AUD’s Cliff Bumgardner (front) & Anita Normanly work behind the scenes on the WRAL.com Original Series “This Is Human Trafficking.” (photo by Brian French)

“Cliff and I dug in, learning everything we could about the situations that lead to trafficking and the complications involved in getting out,” said Normanly.  “It was heavy subject matter but the more I learned the more I felt like these videos could actually impact people’s lives. We produced the initial videos with a talented crew and some amazing actors.”

That looked to be the end of the work.

“When those videos were done, Cliff and I were proud of our work, but there was no plan for distribution. Project No Rest was planning to use them privately,” said Normanly.  “Unlike most of our videos that air on TV or get posted online, this project just ended with no fanfare at all. It felt like there was no closure to the project.”

Then the topic came to the forefront again, and Normanly and Bumgardner got to thinking.

“Several months later, human trafficking was in the news again with the Robert Kraft story from Florida,” she explained.  “The setting was an illicit massage business, just like one of our dramatizations for Project No Rest. At that point we started to think about the video elements we already had. How could we expand them with more content?”

Normanly continued, “We decided to use the original pieces as b-roll and go back to the experts we met for more in-depth interviews. They gave context to how prevalent trafficking is in North Carolina and why it’s so difficult to stop. The five-part series was complete a few weeks ago—just waiting for release. Last week human trafficking was in the news again so we released the entire series on WRAL.com.”

Both are very proud of the 5-part WRAL Original Series, and thankful for a way to contribute to bringing attention to the problem of human trafficking.

“We really only scratched the surface in five episodes, but it’s our hope it will provide a jumping off point for people to see the complexity of the issue and learn what’s being done – and what needs to be done – to stop it,” said Bumgardner.

“Producing this series was a learning process for me and Cliff Bumgardner,” said Normanly.  “Production-wise I’m proud of the quality of this work on behalf of CBC Audience Development. As a human being I’m also proud of this series for its informative and educational value. Understanding another human being’s experience is a powerful thing. Once your eyes open it’s hard to close them to injustice.”

This Is Human Trafficking

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