to Help Community
“KERA helped me save my home.” With that simple statement, a Dallas-area resident resoundingly illustrated the power of public media.
In a time when stations are as strapped for resources as the communities they serve, stations like KERA are learning to use their existing multi-platform assets in new ways. As part of public media’s Facing the Mortgage Crisis initiative, KERA worked across departments to unite the community through shared stories and resources that helped North Texans cope with a tough economy. The station even helped some Texans avoid foreclosures.
“When working with limited resources…It is important to focus on what you can do, and what you can do well, instead of becoming frustrated about what you aren’t able to do,” explained KERA’s director of education Danny Henley.
KERA staff focused on their core competencies—a prolific news department, past success at extending news content to the Web, and the news staff’s willingness to connect with community members to share stories on-air and online. The result was a year-long, multiplatform initiative that communicated the crisis through personal stories, broke down barriers and helped North Texans in need.
“Telling the story of the mortgage crisis…through the lives of real people out there struggling to make ends meet makes everything we do more compelling. That sense of community can inspire those who are too ashamed or afraid to seek out the help they need,” said Henley.
The Web site supported news efforts by connecting citizens with resources, including links to 2-1-1 Texas, a list of upcoming job fairs and economy-related classes and audio clips about topics ranging from how to save money on textbooks to renters’ eviction rights.
In the end, KERA benefited from the project as much as the local community. Internally, the station has an improved model for working together and communicating effectively in a multimedia environment, as well as a fresh approach for using social media to reach the community.
“Perhaps most importantly,” said Henley, “We are building stronger and lasting relationships with other organizations in our community.”
Read more about KERA’s economic initiative in the NCME Repository.