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Overall Excellence Entry: 2016 WITF

Written by Tim Lambert, WITF Multimedia News Director | Feb 4, 2017 6:07 PM

The presidential election dominated the news in Pennsylvania throughout 2016. Republican Donald Trump's surprising win in the commonwealth paved the way for his path to the White House.

But, the year wasn't all about politics. With each development, WITF worked to provide the proper context to its listeners. We devoted resources to covering stories that had major impacts on our coverage area like a major blizzard that hit central Pennsylvania in January, a funding fight between the GOP-led legislature, the rejection of a proposed merger between two large healthcare systems, the first-ever faculty strike at the 14 state-owned universities and the legalization of medical marijuana in the state.

WITF's journalists also reported on very personal stories. Listeners heard how one church in southern York County works to preserve the Welsh languange. The mother of the youngest victim on Flight 93 spoke emotionally about how the quiet field where her daughter died on 9/11/01 has changed for her, 15 years after the terrorist attacks. Our Transforming Health reporter sat in the living room with a family trying to figure out how it can afford healthcare coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

But, it wasn't all serious. WITF launched a music series that brought bands from across the region into our studios to play and chat about whatever was on their minds.

In 2016, we worked to build a stronger presence for our work (including our Transforming Health, Keystone Crossroads and StateImpact Pennsylvania projects) across all platforms, including digital build-outs for several stories and utlizing Facebook Live videos to help our audience have a better understanding of issues that affected them (links attached).

"The following stories have been edited.*


Track 1:

Donald Trump became the first Republican presidential candidate to win Pennsylvania since 1988. WITF's coverage of the race included not only the candidates rallies and analysis from political observers, but also the views of potential voters on issues like poverty, the potential for voter fraud and energy. This segment of our entry includes excerpts of stories, portions of our live election night coverage and a recap the state's Electoral College vote in December.

0:00 - 06:40

Track 2:

Lebanon County in central Pennsylvania experienced some problems with at the polls on election day involving voting machines, provisional ballots and people being turned away before casting a ballot. WITF's Emily Previti looked into the issues.

06:41 - 7:41

Track 3:

People have been finding their way to to the Flight 93 crash site in Somerset County for nearly 15 years. Among them are family members who visit their lost loved ones and ensure the legacy of the men and women who died will not be forgotten. WITF's Tim Lambert walks the memorial with the mother of the youngest passenger on the doomed jetliner and reports on the meaning of this quiet field has changed for her over the years.

7:42 - 9:48

Track 4:

In January, 2016, a massive winter storm blasted the midstate. When it was all said and done, an estimated 18-24 inches of snow blanketed much of the region, with the highest totals approaching three feet in some areas. This segment includes portions of our coverage from preparations for the big storm to the aftermath of shoveling out.

9:49 - 15:30

Track 5:

A proposed merger between two major health systems in central Pennsylvania was rejected by federal regulators and upheld by a federal court. WITF's Transforming Health reporter Ben Allen looked at the potential impact of the plan and the ramifications of the court decision.  

15:31 - 17:00

Track 6:

After every mass shooting in the U.S., a common call is heard: place more restrictions on guns. One of the immediate reactions is to push for requiring background checks for everyone. Gun right advocates quickly argue such a move would infringe on their Second Amendment rights to own a weapon. So what does a background check in Pennsylvania actually require? WITF's Ben Allen finds out

17:01 - 17:55

 Track 7:

Getting - and staying - healthy is usually pretty cut and dry for people. That might mean a trip to the gym, going for a run or a swim, or maybe just a simple walk. But, it's time to fire up that imagination and break out of the routine. Transforming Health's Ben Allen has the story of an offbeat sport played in the midstate that offers a wildly different take on the hobby of royalty. 

17:56 - 19:02

Track 8:

Education for student refugees in their late teens to early 20's has been the focus of recent lawsuits against public schools the country. Early in 2016, several districts in New York reached settlements, followed by another lawsuit filed against a school in Florida. In Pennsylvania, Keystone Crossroads Emily Previti covers a lawsuit over the same issues in the School District of Lancaster, long known as a hub for refugee resettlement. 

19:03 - 21:27

Track 9:

Professors, students and supporters took to picket lines at 14 state-run  universities around Pennsylvania. It was the first faculty strike in the State System of Higher Education's history. The walk-out affected more than 100,000 students. WITF's public affairs show, Smart Talk, heard from both sides -- just hours after the strike started. WITF's Katie Meyer also reported on how one campus was affected on day one.

21:28 - 24:27

Track 9:

The shootings of two black men -- one in Louisiana and another in Minnesota -- by police were the latest in a string of violent confrontations between police and African-American men over the past two years. With each one, the mistrust between the black community and law enforcement seems to get wider. Then, a sniper shot and killed five police officers and wounded seven others in Dallas. A sense of sadness, anger and fear spread over the country and left many asking when does it all end. WITF's Smart Talk talks with community leaders about the violence can be stopped and the gapcan be bridged between the races and especially blacks and police.

24:28 - 25:46

Track 10:

Throughout Pennsylvania's natural gas boom, state environmental regulators have been behind-the-times when it comes to technology. As head of the state Department of Environmental Protection, Secretary John Quigley often complains that gas workers get to carry iPads in the field, while his staff is stuck with paper and clipboards. StateImpact Pennsylvania's Marie Cusick looks at what's being done to bring the agency into the 21st century.

25:47 - 26:40

Track 11:

State environmental regulators are holding a series of public hearings for a new natural gas liquids pipeline planned to cross 350 miles of southern Pennsylvania. The so-called "Mariner" pipeline project is designed to export natural gas liquids from the Marcellus and Utica Shales to other countries. StateImpact Pennsylvania's Marie Cusick reports, there's an ongoing fight over how --- or if -- it will benefit Pennsylvanians.

26:41 - 27:18

Track 12:

More than 670,000 low-income Pennsylvanians have been able to receive health care coverage through the federal Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion. Hundreds of thousands of others have purchased insurance on the exchange, with mixed results. The commonwealth is in the top 10 in the country for rate of uninsured. But, more than six percent of the population still doesn't have coverage.  At one free clinic in Harrisburg, nurses tallied 14,000 visits last year. Transforming Health's Ben Allen takes a visit to see how faith-based organizations are filling in the gapS

27:19 - 29:04

Track 13:

Polls show health care is one of the most important issues for voters.  During the campaign, President-elect Donald Trump pledged to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, though he's since vowed to keep the more popular parts of the law. Trump's victory puts two of his supporters in rural Schuylkill County in a bit of a short-term bind as they decide whether to get health insurance for next year. But, Transforming Health's Ben Allen reports why Abra and Matt Schultz say they don't mind.

29:05 - 30:16

Track 14:

Medical marijuana has been legal for a couple of months in Pennsylvania.  But where is the state at this point, and where is it headed? That's a big question to answer, but Transforming Health's Ben Allen gives it a try.

30:17 -- 31:24

Track 15:

The GOP-led state Senate ended its last voting day of the session by declining to vote on a bill to maintain a dedicated funding stream to state unemployment compensation offices for an additional year. Democratic Governor Tom Wolf condemned the chamber's decision not to vote. The move resulted in the layoffs of 520 people and the closure of three UC call centers -- just days before Christmas. WITF's Katie Meyer covered the Senate's decision and the ensuing protests. She also sat down with one family affected by the layoffs.

31:25 - 35:58

Track 16:

Early Welsh settlers in York County brought their mining skills to transform the area. From the WITF Arts and Culture desk, Cary Burkett has the story of a church which wants to preserve that heritage - by preserving the Welsh language itself. 

35:59 -37:22

Track 17:

WITF Music is a series that profiles musicians and bands from central Pennsylvania. They come into our performance studio to play and chat with WITF's Joe Ulrich about music, life and whatever else comes up.

37:23 - 39:54

Track 18:

This WITF newscast from the day after the election recaps Donald Trump's surprising win in Pennsylvania in the November election, GOP incumbent U.S.Senator Pat Toomey's victory and the results of a statewide ballot referendum.

39:55 - 42:50

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