Examining the Issues That Matter
Day after day, story after story, the WNYC Newsroom affirmed the unique and vital role that public media play in our society in Fiscal Year 2016. WNYC was there every single day providing the news you needed to know in the moment, be it information about your commute or breaking news around the city. Out on the streets and in our communities, WNYC journalists used narrative storytelling, enterprise reporting and data analysis to explore and bring to the forefront the issues that our region and our citizens grapple with every day. WNYC’s groundbreaking and award-winning work brought to light injustices and pushed forward important conversations about race, inequality, domestic violence, social and criminal justice, as well as infrastructure and environmental concerns. Here are just a few of the unique series and enterprise reports that distinguished WNYC’s service this year:
Radio Rookies: “Crushed”: Just as teens are starting to explore romance and relationships, an estimated one in three say they’ve experienced some kind of abuse. In September 2015, Radio Rookies, the WNYC program that empowers teens to tell their own stories, aired a series on abusive relationships called “Crushed.” The coverage drew national attention to the issue of how domestic violence affects teens, with pieces airing on All Things Considered and This American Life.
Alvin Hall Goes Back to School: In the early days of school integration, Alvin Hall became the first black valedictorian at Wakulla High School in Florida. But shortly after graduation, his photo was taken down from wall of the school’s brightest and replaced with the photo of two white students from his year. After nearly 40 years, “Alvin Hall Goes Back to School” takes him on the small but important step in the struggle for racial justice in America. Through a four-part series told in his own voice, The Takeaway, produced by WNYC and PRI, captured Alvin’s emotional homecoming.
The Long Way Home: For families in New York City’s shelter system, the way out is long and hard, even with multi-million dollar anti-homelessness programs in place to help them. WNYC’s four-part series “The Long Way Home” showed how difficult it is for a working homeless mother to find a landlord willing to take city housing vouchers. The week after the series aired, Mayor de Blasio visited the shelter where the family was living and vowed to take action; as a result, 85 landlords were investigated by the city for discrimination.
Running Late: Life in and around our city runs only as smoothly as our aging transit system. Through a series called “Running Late,” WNYC unpacked the region’s transportation infrastructure problems with reports looking at the poor conditions of the 42nd Street Port Authority Bus Terminal, the uncertain finances of the 2nd Avenue subway project and the impact that closed subway entrances have on train crowding and delays.
Dirty Little Secrets: Eighty-nine percent of New Jersey residents live within a mile of a contaminated site. That is just one of the “dirty little secrets” WNYC uncovered in an investigative series looking at New Jersey’s toxic legacy. As part of the series, the WNYC DataNews team charted the location of more than 14,000 contaminated sites in the state of New Jersey and created a tool for residents to look up the sites near their homes and to see what plans – if any – were in the works for clean-up.
“Robert Lewis and the WNYC Team produced an impressive series of reports with real value for the citizens of New York City. With strong editing and writing, the series was a fantastic collaboration within the newsroom that went above and beyond to expose toxic cops.” (Deadline Club Judges, May 11, 2016) See Awards Page.
Covering Race in New York City
In Fiscal Year 2016, New York Public Radio secured generous support from The Ford Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for a year-long series of reporting on race. This included the hiring of a new producer, Rebecca Carroll, to coordinate all coverage, the production of the podcast, “There Goes the Neighborhood” and over 100 WNYC news segments on race, including public conversations on The Brian Lehrer Show. Radio Rookies also contributed stories on growing up during the Obama years. This programming was augmented by live events in The Greene Space and in the community.
THE ESSENTIAL PUBLIC SQUARE
Playing a Critical Role in Our Democracy
Independent media plays a critical role in our democracy, ensuring that citizens are informed on the issues and understand the agendas of those who represent them and those who seek public office. During an election cycle filled with complex stories, divisive campaigning and candidates with deep roots in the New York region, WNYC illustrated its deep commitment to accountability journalism and created the virtual public square where citizens could convene and take part in a civil and inclusive conversation about politics and policy.
Exposing Voter Irregularities: During the 2016 New York Primary, WNYC’s City Hall Reporter Brigid Bergin broke the story that thousands of voters had been dropped from the voting rolls in Brooklyn . When the WNYC DataNews team dug deeper into the numbers, it turned out that 120,000 voters were dropped and that Hispanics in the 7th congressional district were hit hardest in the purge . The coverage resulted in numerous investigations and calls for reform, as well as the suspension of two Board of Election officials.
Connecting Congress: This year, WNYC hired its first Washington Correspondent ―John O’Connor ―to cover members of the House and Senate who represent New York, New Jersey and Connecticut directly from the nation’s capital. He is heard frequently on The Brian Lehrer Show , which launched the “ Connecting Congress ” series to interview every member of the tri-state delegation, bringing a new level of accountability to our representation in Washington.
Examining the Candidates from New York: With deep histories in New York and New Jersey, WNYC was uniquely positioned to offer insights on both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. WNYC reporter Andrea Bernstein has covered Hillary Clinton for 16 years, since Clinton first ran for Senate. On the eve of the New York Primary, Bernstein conducted an exclusive one-on-one interview with Clinton and discussed everything from work, family and campaigning to gay marriage and health care. In June, New Jersey Public Radio reporter Matt Katz produced an eye-opening report looking at Trump’s deep political connections in New Jersey .
Providing Special Primary Night Call-In Shows: On April 19, when New Yorkers went to the polls on primary day, Brian Lehrer hosted a statewide call-in show to track the results, in partnership with other public radio stations around New York. On June 7, the evening of the New Jersey and California primaries, WNYC produced and Brian hosted the first hour of NPR’s national coverage, with a focus on results from the garden state. Brian opened up the phone lines to hear what was happening at the polling sites and to talk to citizens about the reasons behind their votes.
Leading the New York Conversation Every Day
The Brian Lehrer Show: Leading up to and taking us through the Presidential election, The Brian Lehrer Show launched “30 Issues in 30 Weeks” to explore, in-depth, a host of issues that are shaping the race. Brian and his guests in partnership with his listeners looked at taxes, healthcare in America and paid family leave in Fiscal Year 2016 and the conversations continue. This year, The Brian Lehrer Show’s standing as New York City’s preeminent civic forum was also affirmed when Mayor de Blasio began a weekly segment on the show to address questions from the public. Anyone can submit a question any time on Twitter @BrianLehrer with the hashtag #AskTheMayor.
The Leonard Lopate Show: With over thirty years on WNYC, The Leonard Lopate Show continued to lead the cultural conversation in New York. In Fiscal Year 2016, the program welcomed a variety of guests, including Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Gibson, Patrick Kennedy, John Fogerty, soprano Sondra Radvanovsky, Marlee Matlin and Camryn Manheim from Spring Awakening, Julie Andrews and her daughter Emma Walton Hamilton, Kevin Costner, Priscilla Presley, Elvis Costello, Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz and Ted Koppel.
Jami Floyd, Host of All Things Considered
In Fiscal Year 2016, WNYC welcomed a new host to the anchor chair for the local broadcast of All Things Considered: Jami Floyd, an award-winning broadcast journalist and legal analyst.