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.
KNXV, the ABC affiliate in Phoenix owned by Scripps, was honored with a National Emmy Award last week at the 37th Annual News & Documentary Emmy Awards hosted by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences in New York.
The station won the top award in the Regional News Story: Investigative Reporting category for its multi-part series on dentists with troubled pasts.
Arizona’s Dental Dangers, a year-long investigation, exposed a system that allowed dentists to keep state licenses despite repeated malpractice, criminal arrests, permanent patient injuries and even deaths, according to KNXV.
Click here to go to KNXV’s online section which includes more stories and information.
The Now, an hour-long program by E.W. Scripps Co., launched last week in Cincinnati (WCPO, ABC), Detroit (WXYZ, ABC), Cleveland (WEWS, ABC) and Tampa (WFTS, ABC) according to Jessica Rappaport, Scripps’ VP of Marketing.
The Now premiered in July and August on other Scripps stations in Denver (KMGH, ABC), Kansas City (KSHB, NBC), Phoenix (KNXV, ABC) and West Palm Beach (WPTV, NBC). The Now airs at 4 p.m. in every market.
“Research indicates there is a significant appetite for news at 4 o’clock,” says Rappaport. “The challenge is to execute it across eight markets in different time zones by sharing content and resources but yet keep it local.”
Scripps describes The Now as an original program that focuses on the issues of most interest to news consumers.
How can they possibly know that?
Rappaport says they use a “technology to help us identify what people are talking about the most”, but stopped short of identifying it.
According to Scripps, The Now features a mix of local, national and international news, as well as viral stories, videos, entertainment and lifestyle stories.
“The Now is independently produced in each market,” Rappaport says, “what each station does day-to-day varies.” She adds that KMGH Denver acts as the national desk.
In a press release, Brian Lawlor, VP of Scripps, describes The Now as the “type of programming audiences on multiple platforms crave.”
Several of the station’s websites emphasize that The Now is “not a newscast.”
Rappaport says The Now programs do cover weather, “but not like they cover it in other newscasts” and will not routinely cover traffic “unless it’s a big story.”
If there’s a breaking news story in any of the markets where The Now airs, those stations “will cover it but stay with The Now format”, according to Rappaport.
Scripps provided the stations with fast-paced, graphics-oriented promos to launch the shows. Some stations use talent in their launch promos; some don’t. Some stations support The Now with daily, episodic topicals; some don’t.
Rappaport says social media is important to marketing the program. “Each city uses its social media person for Facebook and Twitter to help gauge what’s going on and to get contributions from users and viewers. it’s critical to the show’s success.”
And how is Scripps feeling about the success of The Now?
“It’s too early to know,” Rappaport says, “of course, we’re interested in ratings and revenue.”
But more importantly, she adds, is how well the shows are executed and how they contribute to the Scripps brand. “Good content trumps everything.”