Follow Planet Money’s Kickstarted T-shirt odyssey

By Andrew Lapin

Planet Money's Alex Blumberg poked fun at public radio T-shirts in a video promoting the reporting unit's Kickstarter campaign. (Photo: NPR)

The Planet Money team, including co-creator Alex Blumberg, is talking about its T-shirt reporting project all week on NPR programs and online. (Photo: NPR)

The cotton T-shirt, a public radio merchandising staple, is front and center in a new multimedia project from NPR’s economics-reporting unit Planet Money.

Seven months after raising $590,000 on Kickstarter for a project to track the production and distribution of a T-shirt, Planet Money has launched a website using video and data to tell the story of how its crowdfunded shirt came into the world. Told in five chapters and built by the NPR Apps team, the reporting project begins with a cotton farm in Mississippi and seed labs in Wisconsin before jumping to clothing factories in Bangladesh and Colombia. It ends with its own funders back in America, the beneficiaries of T-shirts they purchased for $25 each along with supporting the stories.

“We wanted to tell the story of our clothes, the way the vast majority of our clothes are actually made,” Planet Money co-creator Alex Blumberg says in the introductory video.

Planet Money is dubbing this week “Planet Money T-Shirt Week.” In addition to their web reporting, team members are appearing all week on NPR programs including Morning Edition, Weekend Edition and All Things Considered to discuss the project. The shirt itself, which features an illustration of a squirrel holding a martini, is still available for purchase through Dec. 31; NPR will place a second order of shirts for interested listeners.

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