As the nation continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, local broadcasters keep adapting to meet the needs of their communities. When scammers try to take advantage of confusion and disinformation to target those seeking testing, assistance and more, the consistent, trustworthy reporting of local broadcasters is a key line of defense.
For state and local officials looking to reach out to their communities, the broad reach of local TV and radio is a vital resource. Gray Communications’ KCRG in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, shared advice on avoiding COVID-19 testing scams from the county’s public health director along with a real-life story that helped viewers understand what they need to watch out for.
TEGNA’s 5 On Your Side in St. Louis, Mo., tracked the story of one crew of scammers who took advantage of crowding at a busy testing site. The story provided tips on avoiding future scams and gave the county an opportunity to reach those who may have been given fake tests.
Stories dedicated to tips to avoid COVID-19 scams can reach the community directly. CBS12, a Sinclair Broadcast Group station in West Palm Beach, Fla., emphasized the breadth of possible COVID-19 scams in a story that mentioned robocalls, social media, door-to-door visits and other possible scams. They then provided the key information viewers need to avoid accidentally giving away personal or financial information.
Townsquare Media’s news radio station KGAB in Cheyenne, Wyo., rounded up the top six scams related to COVID-19, from false cures to price gouging, along with information about how to avoid each.
And in Houston, Texas, Graham Media Group’s KPRC2 explored the ways local, state and federal officials are working to combat unregulated testing sites, providing viewers with information about how to report testing issues.
In addition to providing the local news, television and radio broadcasters bring their communities local perspectives and experts to help them understand how national stories affect their lives. Scripps Media’s WXYZ Channel 7 in Detroit, Mich., spoke to a pediatrician from the local children’s hospital about the children in his care suffering from COVID-19. Adding the experiences of a local mother whose son had COVID-19 last year, they demonstrated the impact this story has on their viewers’ lives.
When the Omicron variant led to an alarming death statistic, Graham Media Group’s News4Jax in Jacksonville, Fla., spoke to a local doctor and public health expert to explain the numbers and provide context for their viewers.
Similarly, Allen Media Broadcasting’s WTVA in Tupelo, Miss., went in-depth with the chief medical officer for North Mississippi Health Services to discuss the Omicron variant and the resources available in their community to combat it.
Local reporters can provide in-depth coverage of local government activities. Hubbard Broadcasting’s WTOP provided a detailed report of a Montgomery County, Md., city council meeting about COVID cases in the school system, school bus driver shortages and a look ahead to the school system’s future as COVID-19 becomes endemic.
More than 2.47 million American jobs depend on broadcasting, and the local broadcast radio and television industry - and the businesses that depend on it - generate $1.17 trillion annually for the nation's economy.