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News Literacy Week: Behind the scenes at FOX 17 amid the pandemic

Posted at 5:58 AM, Jan 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-29 05:58:00-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.  — As National News Literacy Week comes to an end, we wanted to share how we here at FOX 17 have been forced to pivot during this pandemic in the way we gather information and produce our newscasts to bring you fair, accurate, and trustworthy news.

Like the rest of the world back in early March of last year, we adjusted the way we operate in order to continue bringing you the news, from going live in our homes to having our anchors in the studio stand six feet apart.

“It became very apparent to me, as I talked to my boss, the general manager of this television station, and also the people that I advise with at our corporate level, that we needed to work to transition to a different way of doing news that we had never done before,” says Brooks Blanton, FOX 17 news director.

“Our viewers were then relying on us more than ever. They needed to know what was going on and what was happening,” says Blanton.

Within a matter of days, at-home studios were popping up in the living rooms of our FOX 17 reporters and anchors.

A lot was happening, says Blanton. “We had to deal with, on top of the pandemic, -- which is the biggest story of our lifetime right now, I think -- but also having to deal with the Black Lives Matter protests, to the storming of our state capitol and the kidnapping plot against our governor, and protests all over the state against the Coronavirus restrictions that were in place, to the election and Michigan being a major swing state in the election."

With this unprecedented year of news, communication has been vital and we’ve been constantly working to make sure our news is depicting the truth.

“There are so many things right now that are designated as true, when really they are somebody's opinion,” says FOX 17 multimedia journalist Michael Martin. "Right now, we really have to take a moment and stop and digest what we're hearing as journalists and make sure that we go through the process of verifying facts," making sure not only that our stories are factual but showing all angles.

“On top of everything else that we've been dealing with in 2020, we've hit a point where both sides of the political aisle distrust the media,” says Martin. "In some cases, that makes it really difficult for us to get both sides of a story. But it is so important -- now more than ever -- to get both sides of it, because we are dealing with a community and environment of people that are more skeptical now of the news than they've ever been before."

Friday, January 29, at 7 p.m. on the FOX 17 OTT app, there will be a 30-minute special highlighting News Literacy Week with additional interviews and student produced stories.

Thank you for inviting us into your homes each day and trusting us so we can share your stories and keep you informed on what’s happening in our community.