ORLANDO, Fla. – WKMG-TV News 6 and ClickOrlando.com have been committed to helping Floridians make ends meet since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, which has put a financial strain on countless Americans, particularly in Florida, where the state’s unemployment system became clogged last year. And now, that work is being recognized.
Hearing story after story about Floridians struggling to pay their bills or put food on the table after being left without work due to statewide layoffs and furloughs sparked the station’s “Make Ends Meet” series, led by News 6 investigator Mike Holfeld and photojournalist Robert Breuer.
In a year where misinformation and fear dominated headlines, News 6 tackled the financial crisis triggered by COVID in the only way we know how – by reaching out to individuals and state and congressional lawmakers one by one, day by day, month by month, and getting results. Our ongoing campaign started in March of 2020 and is still a weekly part of our newscasts and website.
On March 30, 2020, Holfeld began airing and posting a series of Make Ends Meet economic reports. They were aimed at helping families who were suddenly unemployed develop a budget based on their stimulus check and state and federal economic relief. What we realized very quickly is that life in this pandemic was more about surviving than simply budgeting.
Since the start of the series, News 6 has gotten results for so many Floridians, spending thousands of hours working to recover nearly $1 million in unemployment from the Department of Economic Opportunity for deserving people and procured more than $60,000 in donations from viewer to viewer.
For the work done through the “Make Ends Meet” initiative, News 6 has again landed a spot among the finalists for the National Association of Broadcasters Service to America Award, marking the fourth consecutive year the TV station has been a finalist for the honor.
The Service to Community Award is presented each year by the NAB Leadership Foundation (NABLF) to honor the outstanding public service commitment of local television and radio broadcasters.
News 6 has been the recipient of this prestigious award twice before. In 2019, WKMG-TV was honored for its tireless work to help first responders with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) receive the benefits they need to deal with their illness. The station’s 21-month fight resulted in the passing of the Florida state law providing those benefits for all first responders. In 2020, News 6 was recognized for its “Driving Change” campaign, led by News 6 anchor Matt Austin, who was hit by a driver who admitted to texting behind the wheel. News 6′s coverage over three years led to changing the texting and driving law in the state of Florida from a primary offense to a secondary offense.
When it comes to serving the community, WKMG News 6, our digital platform ClickOrlando.com and the Make Ends Meet franchise stand as undeniable proof that local news remains a pillar of strength that can change lives, change minds and serve a greater good, even in the middle of a pandemic.
The winner will be announced later this year.