A water crisis in Flint, Still

 

 

A crisis in Flint

Flint’s water supply has become an ongoing issue in the state of Michigan, especially as the water crisis has yet to be fixed since its start four years ago.

 

For many people, this news broke after nine city current and former state employees were charged. The citizens of Flint however, this news of toxic water was not new to them. It has been an issue they have been dealing with after the city decided to switch the water system from Detroit, MI water supply. Citizens of Flint complained in May of 2014 , that the water smelled, tastes bad and the color was off putting. That did not deter city officials who adamantly told residents the water was fine to drink.

 

Within the next year, the EPA and DEQ mentions according to the governor’s office that high levels of lead had been found in the water the citizens use daily. This still did not get the city officials including the EPA and DEQ to acknowledge that there is an ongoing problem.

 

After several independent research testing done by companies such as the Virginia Tech who also found lead levels elevated and made their research public the city did not want to admit the failing to the people of the city.

 

Additionally, the back and forth on safe levels of water versus none safe levels of water has caused a major distrust with the residents of Flint and their government. What does not help is knowing that for $100 per day 90% of flints water issues could have been prevented. These unprofessional actions has led many to believe this was done intentionally and race driven.

 

According to a CNN report from February 17, 2017 the “Michigan Civil Rights Commission issues a 129-page report saying, ‘deeply embedded institutional, systematic and historical racism’ indirectly contributed to the ill-fated decision to tap the Flint drinking water at a cost saving measure.”

 

The population of Flint, MI is 54.8% Black, 37.1% White, and 3.73% Hispanic. 3.11% of the people in Flint, MI speak a non-English language, and 99% are U.S. citizens. If this was indirectly motivated by racial cause, that would be 54,691 black Americans out of 99,802 were subjected to poison intentionally. That is a tough pill to swallow.

What happens when all the buzz surrounding the water issues are no longer relevant, when journalist, reports, and news stations stop reporting on the progress? In short, nothing. Instead we are covering, who the Kardashians husbands are sleeping with, or who our President had an affair with prior to being elected. Or as Fox news reported Panda’s being sex crazed. There should not be a wonder why Flint’s residents feel left alone and now without free bottles of water.

 

Michigan’s governor Rick Synder announced on Friday April 6, 2018 the state will no longer give out free water due to the strides that have led the water to know be at acceptable lead levels. This year it has tested at 4 PPB. Because of the mistrust between residents to the government, the residents are not happy with the decision to stop the water supply. One resident has said in an interview with the Associated Press, “My water stinks. It still burns to take a shower,” she told The Associated Press. “There’s no way they can say it’s safe.” As a result of this type of feedback local churches are also bracing themselves for a large amount of people who will be coming to request water.

 

“Mayor Karen Weaver wrote in a letter to state officials on Thursday. ‘Free bottled water should be provided to the people of Flint until the last known lead-tainted pipe has been replaced.’ While this may seem like an easy enough request. Governor Synder has like the original culprits mentioned the saving of money to discontinue these services citing $350 million given by the state via tax payers money and $100 million from the federal government was enough. Furthermore he said, “We will now focus even more of our efforts on continuing with the health, education and economic development assistance needed to help move Flint forward.”

 

The state will however, continue to provide items such as water testing kits, lead filters and cartridges until the pipes are completely changed by 2020.

 

What can you do to help? Keep talking about Flint’s water crisis, demand coverage and change. Additionally, continue to reach out to congress and most importantly the governor of Michigan. Email: governorsoffice@michigan.gov Mail: Governor Rick Snyder P.O. Box 30013 Lansing, Michigan 48909 Phone: 517-373-3400 517-335-7858 (Constituent Services). The citizens of Flint are not giving up, today many are marching towards the capital to protest the end of the bottle water program until trust is gained and also until the old rusted lead pipes are replaced.

This story is ongoing as the new events of ending the water program will have new information as the situation develops.

New kid on the block

Being an American in America is somewhat under heavy fire. For some people due to a flux of recent racial tension that has become one of the leading headlines besides “Russiagate”. The latest story that has been blasted across social media and television media is a story of a young man who almost became a hashtag.

Fourteen-year-old Brennan Walker woke up one morning not knowing that post events would forever change his life. As it happens with many children, he missed the bus for school and decided rather than play hooky, he would walk to school. Brennan a young black teen cut through a neighborhood hoping that he could get help from people in the area. Little did he know moments later he would be shot at and almost brutally murdered.

After knocking on a door in Rochester Hills, Michigan, he was confronted by an angry woman, her husband and a barrel of a shotgun.

Walker tells Fox 2 Detroit, “I got to the house, and I knocked on the lady’s door. Then she started yelling at me and she was like, ‘Why are you trying to break into my house?’ I was trying to explain to her that I was trying to get directions to Rochester High. And she kept yelling at me. Then the guy came downstairs, and he grabbed the gun, I saw it and started to run. And that’s when I heard the gunshot.”

For many people it was as simple as, “why doesn’t a teenager know his way to school” and for others many teens get on the bus and browse the web or talk amongst friends not really paying attention to the navigation of the bus driver.

It would seem this is a clear case of racial bias. Many people myself included, wonders if this would happen to say, a white American. I am an African American who just moved into a suburban neighborhood myself. As the “new kid on the block” I want to introduce myself to my neighbors and perhaps bring over a gift. Should I have to worry about whether I’ll be met with smiling faces or a barrel of a shotgun?

In this case we can say justice will hopefully be served. The shooter, Jeffrey Zeigler a retired fireman faces life in prison on the charges of assault with the intent to murder and a felony firearm charge. His bail was set at $50,000. I hope he will be an example to all registered gun owners and people with hidden racial biases that not ALL black people are monstrous despite Hollywood’s depiction and also that not ALL gun owners are reckless.

The story of my story

Writing a data driven story does have it challenges. Getting reliable sources as evidence for ones story is a challenge. As a journalist, you want to make sure that not only are the sources reliable in regards to facts, but also true and non-biased.

When creating my story for the Flint, Michigan’s water crisis, there were tons of data out there to incorporate into my story. One interesting topic came up with the decision to cut cost was race driven.  That led me to my first source using Data USA to get a better understanding of the demographics. This source outlined the income for the city as well as the individual ethnic groups that are citizens of this city.

Another source I used as primary, is the EPA for Flint. This source was crucial in This article was a timeline story dating from 2011 through 2018developing a fact based story. This particular source, I was able to get information on past and current lead levels in the Flint water systems and how they have decreased over the last seven years.

An additional source I used as a secondary measure was via CNN. This article was a timeline story dating from 2011 through 2018 and the different events that has taken place. This was important to me because I was able to get a complete article that another journalist or reporter has written that helps understand the momentum of what has transpired.

I did use several other sources, but the last two very important sources are from Michigan.gov. This source is very crucial to this type of data story. It was a call to the public to assist with not allowing this issue to go unnoticed or swept under the rug. This link included the address, email and phone number to the Governor of Michigan Rick Synder. Lastly,  an updated article from NBC News that was recent. This article was one of the latest in the developing albeit forgotten story of the crisis the citizens of Flint has been experiencing over the last seven years. Including, the governments decision to stop the bottle water program because lead levels are now within acceptable federal guidelines.

Bloomberg on my tweetdeck

Bloomberg is an organization that I am following on my social media handle (Twitter).  I was first introduced to the company several years ago as I ventured into the stock market. With my TD Ameritrade App there was a section on the app that had live Bloomberg news.

The tool I am using to aggregate is Tweetdeck .  I believe that Bloomberg’s feed allows for people to look at what is going on in the business world as well as economics and this all depends on which of Bloomberg handles that you follow.

The content on this website that makes it worth following for me is if you are interested in stocks this will be a good place to gather information and stay up to date with what is going on in the business world. The economics Bloomberg Twitter is also great for trading currency. Bloomberg relates information about multiple countries economics. If someone is not interested in stocks then it will still be a good source of information to have on hand.

 

Inside Z’s world of social media frenzy

I’ve had social media for a very long time. I started out with MySpace. Unfortunately I do not recall my username or password so a screenshot or link would not be useful at this time.

My main social media platform would be Instagram . I use Instagram primarily for photos and to alert the world via hashtags (and those that are following can see as well ) of newly posted blogs. If you were to look at my Instagram today, you would see a lot of makeup photos such as the one below.

Probably should charge my phone!

Another platform I use is Snapchat, when I want to do a quick review on products or just to show a little personality, I’ll do so on Snapchat.

Also Snapchat has the world stories which is new to Instagram. With this feature you’re able to reach a lot of people.

My Twitter is fairly new for me to use, originally I used so I could see the products being shipped in my Ipsy bag prior to receiving them. Now I’ve opened it up publicly. I’ll likely use it the same as I use my Instagram account.

Lastly and most important to me is my Blog. Which is one of the main reasons I took a journalism class. I like to have my own platform where I can voice my own opinions, promote my book and of course do product reviews. On my blog, I’ll have my personal poetry, reviews and affiliate discounts with links. After taking this class I’ll be redoing my whole blog to give it a more professional look rather than the I started in my garage vibe it has currently.

A curation example

On Bridgemi I was able to find an example of curation written by Chastity Pratt Dawsey and Mike Wilkinson. This particular article compared the various school stats in Michigan as opposed to other states. The two reporters highlighted an important fact; “Michigan is not getting the school it deserves.”

I feel that after reading Ron French’s story, which is also on Bridgemi, this was a poor example or perhaps a short article. Although the  article had well over 18 paragraphs and only three contextualized links. As the flow of the paragraphs increased to the end of the article the three links were the only sources that were used.

The article also had related links in the middle of certain paragraphs, that could cause some confusion as you are reading. That could be an added value for citizens in the school districts that want to see similar articles on the topic or as mentioned before cause a sense of confusion to the readers.

I do like the way the few links are attributed, it is the same as what we are currently learning and prior to clicking the link you know what you’re going to potentially be seeing. Thus, it is not click bait. Although this is blog post is not about the content of the writing, I think the authors had too much opinion in the writing. This is something that we should limit as much as possible so that our biases and personal beliefs do not run interference with the facts.