On February 5, 2016, WNEM-TV5 (Flint) took its coverage of the Flint Water Crisis to new heights. The station devoted the 7pm to 8pm hour on this Friday night to a town hall discussion on the crisis affecting Mid-Michigan’s largest city for nearly two years. WNEM is the only station to provide a special broadcast in prime access or prime time. TV5 anchors Sam Merrill and Collette Boyd hosted from the station’s downtown Flint studio.
Among those participating in the discussion were Hurley Hospital Pediatrician Dr. Mona Hanna Attisha, the physician who discovered a connection between the drinking water and the high lead levels and Virginia Tech PhD, Dr. Mark Edwards, the first scientist to demonstrate that the highly corrosive water was causing lead to leach from water distribution lines and pipes. Elected officials, including Congressman Dan Kildee (D-5), State Representative Sheldon Neeley (D-34), State Senator and Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D-27), also participated.
Families experiencing severe health effects from the water told the story of the impact on their children. The top EPA official probing the problem visually displayed the difference between a corroded pipe and one with full lead protection. Local activists challenged officials to solve the problem, even if it means removing all the lead service lines citywide. Governor Rick Snyder (R) was an invited guest. He chose to participate by conducting a one-on-one interview with TV5’s Sam Merrill a few hours prior to the event.
According to WNEM-TV5 General Manager Al Blinke, “this town hall meeting was a great opportunity for the community to get an in-depth look at the water situation in Flint and to have an uninterrupted discussion regarding the water crisis. TV5 felt there needed to be a venue, other than the local news, that allowed more time to delve into the problem and the solutions.”
WNEM News Director Ian Rubin said, “The town hall meeting was an important avenue for TV5 to demonstrate its ongoing commitment to the audience even as the national news media spends more time on the story. We were investigating this story for a year and a half before it received national attention, and we will likely be digging deep on it long after the national media departs.”
WZZM-TV (Grand Rapids) has launched a project to help their neighbors in Flint.
The “Water for Flint” campaign is a partnership with Sleep Doctor stores. They are collecting cases and jugs of bottled water, and have sent several truckloads of water to Flint already.
Their campaign has inspired additional efforts by a number of local companies, schools, and other organizations. Pictures are below:
WXYZ-TV (Detroit) took part in a special effort to assist Flint during the ongoing water emergency.
According to WXYZ-TV’s website, 7 Action News was the exclusive broadcast partner in a campaign that was launched by Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones, Councilman Andre L. Spivey, representatives from Faygo, and the United Way to raise funds for water.
As part of the campaign, the Associated Food and Petroleum Dealers and D&B Distributors provided bottled water to the effort below wholesale cost.
The United Way set up a website where donations are still being accepted. You can visit www.detroit2flint.com to make your donation.
“In Detroit we have concerns as it relates to affordable water for residents, and we are working on solutions to address this issue; however, for a community to not have access to clean water is unconscionable… we must do our part!” said Councilman Spivey.
From in-depth news reports to community outreach campaigns, WDIV-Local 4 (Detroit) has made it their mission to help their neighbors in Flint during this water crisis. The station’s consumer investigative unit, “Help Me Hank,” headed up by Hank Winchester, has joined forces with Art Van Furniture and Catholic Charities of Shiawassee and Genesee Counties to collect safe, bottled water for residents of Flint. Several truckloads have been delivered in the past two weeks, and more are on the way.
Local 4 viewers generously donated thousands of dollars during a Local 4 News phone bank last week, benefitting the Child Health & Development Fund. The funds raised go to help the children of Flint with ongoing health issues. For more information, please visit the station’s website: ClickOnDetroit.com.
WXMI FOX 17 (Grand Rapids) and Independent Bank presented the second annual Pay It Forward Person of the Year Awards Gala on January 21. This invitation-only lunch event was held at the CityFlatsHotel. The FOX 17 Pay It Forward Person of the Year is Rick Ayotte.
The goal of the Pay It Forward Initiative is to highlight West Michigan citizens who give of their time, talent, and treasure, while expecting nothing in return.
“We’re very excited to present this event again this year,” said FOX 17 V.P. General Manager Patty Kolb. “We’re proud of the Pay It Forward franchise and all of the amazing, positive stories we’ve been able to share with our viewers. It’s been extremely rewarding for all involved to be able to showcase some of the amazing people in West Michigan who give of themselves, expecting absolutely nothing in return.”
WDIV-TV (Detroit) has partnered with Art Van Furniture to create a community initiative to collect water for the city of Flint.
Art Van Furniture and WDIV-TV Local 4’s Hank Winchester, consumer investigative reporter and head of the station’s “Help Me Hank” consumer unit, have joined forces to collect and deliver bottled water to those in need.
Beginning on January 12, all Art Van Furniture stores in metro Detroit, Flint, and Lansing are now accepting donations of bottled water from the public. Art Van Furniture delivery trucks will transport the collected water to Flint weekly as long as the need exists.
On Saturday, January 16, a joint effort between Fox 2 Detroit, iHeart Media, and the Salvation Army was able to collect water donations at the Kroger on 13 Mile and Woodward. Jay Towers was there to coordinate the donations. The station promised to “load it all into a Kroger semi-truck and they’ll haul it up to Flint later that day.”
In Northern Michigan, WWTV-TV, WWUP-TV, WFQX-TV, and VanDrie Home Furnishings have teamed up to collect donations of water for the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan. The community can bring water donations to any VanDrie Home Furnishings location or make a monetary donation using this link.
According to 9&10 News, monetary donations made at the link above will go towards buying more water and helping families through the Flint Child Health & Development Fund.