Stepping up a commitment to investigative journalism, ABC-owned television stations have launched an ambitious project, “Our America: Equity Report,” which analyzes disparities that exist in the nation’s 100 largest cities.
For the last year, dozens of journalists with the eight Walt Disney Co.-owned ABC stations, including KABC-TV Channel 7 in Los Angeles, have sifted through reams of data to uncover patterns of discrimination in education, housing, policing, health and the environment. To create an interactive online report that compares the five categories, the team used data from public agencies.
The report, which was unveiled Tuesday, is the first major initiative undertaken by the data journalists at ABC stations. This initiative was born out of the realization that news coverage — including live reporting from crime scenes, wildfires, or high-speed police chases – often lacks context or depth about larger social trends.
” People expect more from local news than just reporting the news,” stated Anna Robertson (Vice President of Content and Partner Innovation at ABC-owned TV stations). “We’re constantly thinking about the products we can create to help our viewers. How can we ensure that the next generation is interested in and engaged with our local news ?”
? Local news ratings have been falling for the past decade. Robertson was the leader of an effort to create a team data journalists two years ago. Two grants were awarded to the stations by the Google News Initiative Innovation Challenge in order to assist ABC with its data journalism initiatives. (ABC refused to reveal the amount of money it received from Google. (ABC declined to disclose how much money it received from Google.) ABC reporters had already been looking at disparities during the COVID-19 pandemic. In Los Angeles, for example, KABC found more COVID-19 testing centers in wealthy communities compared with less affluent areas, which had fewer and more crowded facilities. Many of these issues are treated as one-off issues. There is a gap or inequity here. But a lot the same patterns are appearing in quality of life issues.” John Kelly, director of data journalism at ABC-owned TV stations, said that he oversaw the reporting effort.
” Where do our children go to school? How much is our house worth today? Is it possible to buy a house? How does the air we inhale smell? Kelly wanted to know what the water was like. “We wanted to show these issues in an easy-to-understand way, and show them side by side” for the top 100 cities in America.
Aside from Los Angeles, ABC also owns stations in New York and Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco. Fresno. Houston, Fresno. Houston, and Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina. ABC will distribute the report to its affiliated stations.
The data are being used for shaping stories. Julian Glover, a San Francisco ABC race and culture journalist, described how a Black family was subject to racism when they were given a home valuation with a low area value. Two weeks later, after they adorned their home with photos borrowed from white friends, the home received a 50% higher appraisal.
Mark Nichols, senior manger for data journalism at ABC News and eight ABC-owned TV stations, stated that the project encouraged collaboration between the eight ABC-owned stations as well as ABC News ‘ national investigation unit.
” The local stations were able to reach out to neighborhoods and uncover great stories, which often make it into our national reporting,” Nichols stated. These are the local examples we see nationally. We hope this can be a living, breathing project that keeps carrying on.”