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At the Darkest Hour, Michigan Broadcasters Highlight the Importance of Strong, Local Coverage and Community Support

February 17, 2023

Photo credit: MSU Police and Public Safety

By: Sam Klemet, President & CEO,
Michigan Association of Broadcasters

It’s been nearly impossible to escape the grief permeating throughout the state in the wake of the tragic shooting at Michigan State University this week.

The loss of three lives that were just getting started – Arielle Anderson, Brian Fraser, and Alexandria Verner – along with the critical injuries to five others was an attack not only on the Spartan Community, but Michiganders everywhere.

Michigan is mourning. The road to healing will be long, painful, and probably without ever knowing why something so senseless happened. But we will rise.

Michigan is strong. The Spartan community is resilient – I know this because I am a 2007 alum of MSU’s Journalism program. The outpouring of support for current and former students has been uplifting and it’s come from other Michiganders wrapping their arms around those grieving.

The healing is also in large part to the incredible work of our broadcasters who have put in tireless, emotional hours telling the stories of the short, but impactful lives of Arielle, Brian, and Alexandria as well as of the heroics of other students, faculty, first responders, and community leaders.

On Thursday, MSU Department of Police and Public Safety Interim Deputy Chief Chris Rozman noted that the tip that ultimately resulted in capturing the shooter came from someone who saw his photo while watching the news.

The coverage provided from stations across the state was critical in keeping students and the greater-East Lansing community safer.

I can speak to this personally, because I live within walking distance of campus and within a block of where the shooter was seen on video.

My family was glued to our TV and radio stations in the moment as sirens raced past our house and as helicopters flew what felt like feet above our roof.

The local broadcast coverage was robust, informative, and essential to ending a nightmare.

Anyone in our industry understands broadcasters have a primary mission of community service, but the work this week was a reminder to everyone else about how pivotal it is to have strong, local broadcasters who are willing to respond at a moment’s notice to get information out.

And what has happened since then is as important.

Our stations have given voice to students and families telling stories of those who were lost and injured, highlighted support resources available, and offered a space for dialogue and conversations about how to make changes to prevent these types of tragedies in the future.

But that can be draining as well. Many of our broadcasters in the state are alums of MSU or have deep ties to the university and the emotions of covering a story like the events this week can weigh heavy on individuals and newsrooms which is why the Michigan Association of Broadcasters (MAB) and Mental Health Association in Michigan (MHAM) are hosting a special, online program for broadcasters to learn about the services available to them as they cover the pain, loss, and healing of the Spartan Community.

On Monday, February 20 at 12:45 p.m., MHAM President and CEO Marianne Huff will host a session on available coping resources, to share your experiences, and to lend support to fellow broadcasters who will be covering this story for weeks and months to come.  Zoom login details here.

Additionally, you can watch previous sessions here. The FREE program consists of structured sessions that include psychoeducation about the impact trauma and acute stress has on individuals. Each program will include “tools” for helping journalists and broadcasters cope with and reduce the impact their job-related experiences have upon their mental health and well‐being.

There has been immense pain this week, but broadcasters throughout Michigan should be incredibly proud of how they responded, the information they delivered, and the stories they are and will continue to tell about Arielle, Brian, and Alexandria and how MSU and the entire state is uniting and coming together to heal.



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