By Samir Iydroose, age 11
Formerly a senior news producer at Democracy Now!, Carla Wills is the manager of audio production at National Geographic and the executive editor of the Into the Depths podcast. Into the Depths follows a team of Black researchers and divers as they discover and explore many of the thousands of shipwrecks from the transatlantic slave trade.
Samir: How did you get into the world of social justice journalism?
Carla: Once I got into journalism, and even before, I had a continuous focus on making sure the work I did was always about serving the community and making sure people’s voices were amplified. You know, there’s that quote, “It’s not that people don’t have a voice. There are no voiceless people. You just have to pass the mic.” So, basically, my work has always been about sharing platforms, amplifying voices and making sure people are heard.
Samir: Do you think podcasting is an impactful form of media, and why does podcasting appeal to you over other forms of media?
Carla: Absolutely. I’m a big fan of storytelling, and leaning into the narrative of a story. With podcasting and radio, you have to paint a picture without relying on visuals. Instead the focus is on other things like music or ambient sound. Even just the sound around you, which we call room tone. I love the process of putting all of that together and making it sound beautiful. It really immerses the listener in a way that just looking at something on the screen doesn’t really achieve. It allows your imagination to unfold, as well, as you’re listening to the story. It’s an art.
Samir: Why is the mission of Into the Depths important to you? And why do you think it’s important to tell these kinds of stories?
Carla: That’s one of the questions we posed in this series. In order to really understand America, or understand anything about the transatlantic slave trade, we have to have an unvarnished look at history. We can’t be afraid to engage with this history, and not be afraid of the truth. And only after we do that do we really get any real healing and reconciliation. That’s why it matters. If we are to move forward as a country, or even as any kind of community, we have to be able to face history.