WNYC NEWS & DATA NEWS:
Illuminating Big Issues, Telling Human Stories
After 12 years of Michael Bloomberg at the helm, New Yorkers knew the 2013 elections would determine not only their next mayor, but the future direction of the city. Listeners wanted smart, unbiased coverage of what was on their ballots, and they turned to WNYC for all the information they needed to go into the voting booth confident in their choices. The WNYC newsroom produced “Day in the Life” profiles of every mayoral candidate. The Brian Lehrer Show was the place for candidates to go to speak directly with constituents. Online audiences followed the candidates’ progress on the campaign trail through the Data News team’s Mayor Tracker. And when polls closed, voters turned to WNYC.org for real-time returns and demographic breakdowns by districts for the primaries and the general election.
WNYC/New Jersey Public Radio launched the Christie Tracker to keep pace with and fully cover the Chris Christie administration. With original reporting from New Jersey Public Radio’s Matt Katz, the tracker digs deep into the issues and concerns that affect the citizens of New Jersey. The Christie Tracker delivered responsible, up-to-the-minute news on the George Washington Bridge / Port Authority story and is following the more-frequent trips to Iowa as 2016 approaches. It will continue leading the coverage of New Jersey’s governor with features, blog posts and tweets.
Paul Bhola moved to the Bronx from Guyana in 1982 with nothing but a degree from a technical school back home. He’s now a maintenance supervisor for the MTA; owns a $200,000 house; works Christmas and New Year’s; and lives in the neighborhood of Wakefield, where the median household income is $51,223 — right in the middle of household income figures for New York City, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Bhola spoke to WNYC about the sacrifices he’s made to live a middle-class life, and his story is recorded in the WNYC newsroom’s series Life in the Middle. It profiles the struggles and joys of families in all five boroughs who live middle-class lives in a city whose income disparity is only increasing.
At West Brooklyn Community High School, anywhere between 45% and 65% of eligible students earn a diploma within six years. But to hear it from students like Paula Dinh, the dropout crisis is not an abstract policy problem. It’s a matter of survival. As part of the newsroom’s Educating on the Edge series, in partnership with WNYC’s Radio Rookies, Paula was just one of a handful of students giving listeners regular check-ins as she followed through on her goal to walk off the stage with a diploma on Graduation Day.
Until all the victims of Superstorm Sandy are back in their homes, the politicians, government agencies and private firms charged with executing the recovery effort will continue to be held accountable by residents of New York and New Jersey. The hunger for updates, profiles and images is still strong, and WNYC has remained committed to providing that coverage. For the one-year anniversary, the newsroom released a series of features focused on life after the storm and produced a one-hour special incorporating original reporting and interviews from when Sandy hit. The news team received several awards for its Sandy-related coverage (see Awards). The Citizens Housing & Planning Council also honored WNYC with its Insight Award for its continuing coverage of Sandy and its service to New York.
On the morning of October 12, 2013, the nuns of St. Joseph Hill Convent on Staten Island placed three 911 calls to report a fire. One of the nuns had to jump out a window, and she broke three vertebrae. Our audience could follow along online with a Data News piece that featured the actual calls between the nuns and the operators and dispatchers trying to respond. This belonged to a series of reports, some in partnership with WNBC-TV, that provided detailed, concrete examples of some of the larger problems with the city’s 911 emergency response system. Following the coverage and a subsequent City Council hearing, the de Blasio administration expanded its review of the current 911 system.
In 2014, the WNYC newsroom and Data News team launched “Mean Streets,” an initiative to keep track of and analyze all traffic-related deaths on the streets of New York. The project aims to better understand the causes of these fatalities, so root problems can be addressed.