Harvey’s winds have blown themselves out, and the flood waters he left behind have receded.
CNN and The Weather Channel are long since gone.
Schools are just now reopening and the millions of dollars donated from high-profile concerts and countless less visible means across the country are nowhere to be seen.
What remains are thousands of residents mired in red tape, trying to get help from government agencies like FEMA and/or other institutions like the Red Cross.
Jessica Savage, an investigative reporter for KRIS, the NBC affiliate in Corpus Christi, Texas, owned by Cordillera Communications, says FEMA and the Red Cross have had a strong presence in the area since Harvey hit.
Yet, residents are exasperated.
“They’re caught in this government red tape, that’s the frustration we’re hearing. Navigation through the government bureaucracy is difficult for a lot of people,” says Savage.
And even though the response time from FEMA may take only days, “the reasons are really vague,” says Savage, for those denied benefits.
“They don’t understand why they were denied benefits.”
How many of those who apply for benefits have been turned down?
“When we ask FEMA for the number of people who’ve been denied, that’s when we hit a brick wall. They would not release that information. So we have no idea how many are affected by the FEMA denials.”
Savage says the station has filed a public information request for that data.
These are the stories local TV stations like KRIS, and many others in areas hit by Harvey are reporting on now.
KRIS is one of the TV stations I follow on Facebook and when Jessica’s story popped up, I wanted to see what other stories the station was covering related to Harvey’s aftermath.
If your station is aggressively focusing your news assets to cover stories that are helping hurricane victims in your area cut through the red tape, to find the right agencies, to give your viewers specific information about what’s available for their recovery, I’d like to write about it.
TV stations all across the country, either in conjunction with their broadcast group owners, or on their own, are conducting fundraisers to help victims in Texas and Louisiana deal with devastating flooding due to Hurricane Harvey.
At many of the Scripps-owned TV stations, some of which have already been mentioned in earlier columns, Scripps employees assembled phone banks at many stations while waters were still rising.
“As journalists, we often tell the stories of people involved in tragic events like this,” said Sean McLaughlin, Scripps vice president of news.
“Today, we have the opportunity to lead an effort to help those who have lost everything. We can use our company’s reach, spanning from coast to coast, to raise money to ease the burden on the storm’s victims. It is who we are at Scripps.”
KNXV in Phoenix raised $185,000 during its phone bank over two days. That included a $50,000 donation from the Healthy Sprouts Community Foundation.
WXYZ and WMYD in Detroit coordinated a two-day telethon and raised more than $138,000.
At WPTV in West Palm Beach, Fla., the station raised more than $66,000 with its two-day phone bank.
WCPO in Cincinnati raised $100,000 over two days of afternoon-into-evening phone banks.
And in Tulsa, Okla., KJRH raised $16,000 with its Monday phone bank.
In Baltimore at Hearst’s NBC affiliate, WBAL, American Red Cross volunteers have been staffing the phone banks since Monday evening. Donations have eclipsed $260,000, as the phones continue to ring.
“There’s no shortage of adjectives to describe the pictures we’re seeing out of Texas in the wake of Hurricane Harvey,” said Dan Joerres, WBAL’s general manager.
“As powerful as they are, those images don’t even begin to tell the story of the heartache felt by the tens of thousands of people who now have nowhere to live. The phones have been ringing off the hook, as the response from people throughout Maryland has been incredible.”
In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, KCRG, Gray’s ABC affiliate, held a two-hour telethon with the Greater Iowa chapter of the American Red Cross, collecting $46,015. The total includes a $10,000 match from University of Iowa Community Credit Union.
“We went through our own devastating flood here in Eastern Iowa back in 2008,” said Thom Spritz, KCRG’s general manager. “Harvey hits home for so many people in our area.”
Another Gray station, NBC affiliate WEAU Eau Claire, Wis., created a PSA Toolkit that was sent to all the Gray stations so they can quickly get localized announcements on air.
In Boston, WCVB, Hearst’s ABC affiliate, raised more than $500,000, and counting with its RELIEF FUND 5: Help for Houston telethon during yesterday’s day-long fundraising event.
“When our community rallies to support a worthy cause, the results are always amazing,” said Bill Fine, WCVB’s general manager.
“And this time to raise more than a half million dollars in just hours to provide help for Houston is simply awe inspiring.”
In Corpus Christi, Texas, where Hurricane Harvey made landfall, Cordillera Communications’ KRIS, the NBC affiliate, announced a fundraising with the Coastal Bend Disaster Recovery Group to leverage all donor contributions to benefit residents in the seven Texas counties surrounding Corpus Christi.
To speed donations and relief efforts, KRIS and Cordillera will match the first $50,000 donated.
Other Cordillera TV stations nationwide will assist in communicating and promoting this relief fund effort.
KOAA, the NBC affiliate in Colorado Springs owned by Cordillera Communications, leads the market by a nose — less than 40,000 social media actions as its nearest competitor — in the past six months according to data from audience insight firm Shareablee.
KOAA posted 1.2 million total social actions in that period, accounting for 25% of the total engagement generated by the DMA with more than 4.8 million social actions overall.
KOAA also led the market in actions per post with 181.
KKTV, Gray’s CBS affiliate in Colorado Springs, came in second with 1,163,814 social media actions in the same time period.
KKTV led the market on Twitter with just over 24,000 actions.
The Colorado Springs Independent, a weekly newspaper and the largest locally-owned media company in Colorado Springs, led the market on Instagram with just over 8,500 actions.
Ben Lloyd, KOAA’s newly-minted digital executive producer, attributes the station’s winning Facebook performance to a change in focus and staffing.
“Today, literally everyone’s involved in creating content for Facebook,” he says. “That’s where a lot of our viewers are, plus people who are not our viewers. The challenge for any broadcaster is reaching the audience you want to reach, no matter what the platform.”
And by everyone, he means all of the station’s anchors, reporters, producers and meteorologists, along with dozens of other newsroom staffers, a big jump from just the two or three people on the web team who focused on it previously.
That’s been an adjustment for the newsroom that is communicated and reinforced daily.
Lloyd says weather and traffic are the main content drivers for KOAA on Facebook, and at times, the two are linked together.
Colorado Springs is over a mile above sea level though some areas are significantly lower and higher, like Pikes Peak, which rises above 14,000 feet. So weather conditions can vary significantly over the area, which often has a direct effect on road conditions and traffic.
“It makes a big difference, so we focus on Facebook Live whenever there’s bad weather and traffic,” Lloyd says.
Like many stations, KOAA shares Facebook comments by users as a regular feature in its newscasts.
Lloyd says this happens mostly during the morning news, but it’s in the process of incorporating AccuWeather’s Storyteller system into newscasts, which will let staffers interact more with viewers on-air and online.
Lloyd credits KOAA’s marketing department with actively engaging in social media, especially in primetime when people may be watching television but have their Facebook feed open.
“They’re actually looking for and creating content to put on our Facebook page that pushes back to the website to push people to our broadcast,” he says.
Soldiers with the 4th Infantry Division stationed in Fort Carson became part of a Super Bowl commercial for Hyundai last night. They got a big surprise we're certain they will never forget. Take a look at what was shown around the world and let us know what you thought.Read more: http://bit.ly/2liXncj
What started out as an ambitious idea on the part of Raycom Media to help the Red Cross disaster relief efforts for people affected by the recent flooding in Louisiana kept getting bigger and bigger.
The concert, Louisiana Rising: A Benefit Concert for Flood Relief, aired Monday and has raised more than $800,000 thus far for American Red Cross Louisiana Flood Relief, and donations are still being counted.
Harry Connick, Jr.
Originally, the announcement came from Raycom and featured Harry Connick Jr. and Randy Jackson, both Louisiana natives, as hosts. The concert was to be aired on the Raycom stations and across the country on the Bounce TV diginet.
But in the weeks and days leading up to the event, there were announcements almost every day with more performers like Aaron Neville joining the bill and more broadcast companies like Sinclair airing the concert.
I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anything quite like it. Broadcast companies partnering on a live program to benefit victims of a natural disaster.
The live show was carried by Raycom Media, Bounce TV, the ABC Owned and Operated Stations, Hearst Television, Sinclair Broadcast Group, Cordillera Communications, Meredith, Graham Media Group and Cox Media Group.
Viewers also watched a streaming of the show on a special website that carried an additional hour of performances after the broadcast portion ended.
Connick and Jackson co-hosted the live show from Baton Rouge’s River Center Theater. Better Than Ezra, Aaron Neville, Hunter Hayes, Rebirth Brass Band, Luther Kent, Chris LeBlanc, Herman Jackson Jazz Quartet, Quiana Lynell, David Torkanowsky, Chris Thomas King, MacKenzie Bourg, Sonny Landreth, Dwayne Dopsie and Zachary Richard were among artists who performed.
Throughout the broadcast, Matthew McConaughey, Ellen DeGeneres, Drew Brees, Eli Manning, Odell Beckham Jr., John Goodman, Britney Spears, James Taylor, Trace Adkins, Governor John Bel Edwards, Amy Grant, Vince Gill, Scott Bakula, Vanessa Ferlito, Les Miles and Tim McGraw lent messages of support.
The broadcast concluded with Connick Jr. on the piano and all artists singing You Are My Sunshine, which is one of Louisiana’s state songs made popular by former Louisiana Governor Jimmie Davis.
“We are thrilled with the results so far,” said Pat LaPlatney, Raycom’s president.
“We appreciate all the artists who donated their time and energy to the concert. We are grateful to our broadcast partners that helped us reach markets beyond the Raycom Media footprint. Thank you to all our sponsors and the many who donated their goods and services. This was a tremendous effort to raise awareness and money to help the people of South Louisiana recover.”
KVOA, Tucson’s NBC affiliate owned by Cordillera Communications, won a Regional Edward R. Murrow Award for Investigative Reporting in the small market television category of Region 3 which comprises Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.
The story, Lost in Translation, showed the controversial pictures one teacher used in a local school that students claimed were racists and inappropriate.
Regional Award winners automatically advance to the national Edward R. Murrow Awards competition, which will be judged in June.
Cordillera Communications’ KOAA, the NBC affiliate in Colorado Springs, was named Station of the Year for the third year in a row at the Colorado Broadcaster’s Associations awards dinner on Saturday night.
The Station of the Year award goes to the television station that earns the most points in the CBA’s annual awards competition.
KOAA received first-place, best-of awards in 15 of the 26 categories called Awards of Excellence.
All KOAA awards are for in the non-metro category, which means all Colorado TV stations except those in Denver.
“Our team has a singular focus to hyper-serve our viewers,” said Evan Pappas, KOAA’s general manager.
“The community comes first in every decision we make and every story we cover. The result of that commitment is excellence.”
The CBS affiliates serving Montana’s Butte-Bozeman market estimates they’re quadrupling the amount of live shots in their newscasts per month thanks to four new JVC cameras.
KBZK (Bozeman) and KXLF (Butte), owned by Cordillera Communications, are about 90 miles apart but share a studio in Bozeman.
According to the stations’ engineer, Michael Regan, the cameras have essentially replaced the station’s microwave truck for live shots, because they are more versatile and cost effective.
“We have a lot more live shots now that we have these cameras,” says Regan. “We use them all the time.”
“The streaming video is remarkable,” says Andrew Suk, Cordillera’s VP of technology. Suk says each JVC GY-HM650 ProHD mobile news camera cost less than $10,000, while the cost of a microwave truck can run in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“With these cameras,” says Suk, “and using an IP-based satellite system, [we] can turn our news cars into mobile live trucks.”
Regan says the station’s microwave truck requires at least a two-man crew, while almost every reporter works individually reporting and editing stories. The cameras have “virtually quadrupled our news coverage capabilities,” he says.
Recently, the stations were able to have two reporters deliver live standups during the same newscast from different locations.
The stations began using the new JVC mobile news cameras in February.
“It’s a good, solid ENG camera,” says Regan. “It provides exactly what we need, and the live streaming is a big advantage.”