By David Arkin
Local Media Association
Today, Local Media Association executives handed out more than $25,000 to 10 media employees who were impacted by Hurricane Harvey.
Local Media Association President Nancy Lane, Chief Innovation Officer Jed Williams and Chief Content Officer David Arkin visited three media companies in Houston and personally handed out checks to employees of Local Media Association member media companies who experienced everything from flooded homes to collapsed roofs during the hurricane.
This summer, Harvey hit Texas and destroyed hundreds of homes and businesses. It brought more than 50 inches of rain to parts of Houston and greatly impacted employees of media companies and their families.
A week after the hurricane landed, LMA organized a fund-raising drive to help employees of LMA member media companies that were impacted. More than 60 companies and individuals donated more than $50,000 to help employees of media companies that were impacted by Harvey.
“It was such a wonderful experience being able to help out these media members,” Lane said. “I was touched hearing their stories and struggles knowing that dozens and dozens of those in the industry pitched in to help them. I can tell you it meant a ton to those whose lives have been so impacted.”
Six media companies received the funding. They include: Community Impact Newspaper, Houston Defender, KRIS/Cordillera, KPRC/Graham Media Group, Sherman Company/American Press and Victoria Advocate. The funds were divided up evenly among the six companies.
Today, in Houston, LMA met with Community Impact, Houston Defender and KPRC and handed out checks to employees. Four employees at Community Impact, one at KPRC and five at Houston Defender received checks. Employees in the other impacted areas will receive checks this month.
One of those to receive a check today was Reshonda Billingsley, managing editor of Houston Defender. Billingsley, who lives in Missouri City, Texas, had her ceiling collapse during the hurricane.
“It was terrifying,” she said. “But we have been able to stay in our house while the ceilings and walls are being replaced.”
She said while the region is suffering they have banded together like she’s never seen.
“No one is worried about creed, religion or color during a time like this,” she said.
The Defender continued to publish weekly during the storm.
“I’ve covered tornadoes before but never anything like this,” she said. “It’s the one I will always remember.”
Others like Community Impact reporter Abigail Loop didn’t have her home damaged but her car was a total loss.
“We were attending a concert and came out to my car and it was under water,” she said. “I had to get a new car and this (check) will definitely help.”
Numerous companies donated to the impacted media companies. Some of the biggest givers included:
• Facebook Journalism Project: $25,000.
• $5,000: Scripps Howard Foundation
• $2,000: Swift Communications
• $1,100: Chris Hendricks
• $1,000: News Media Alliance, The Buffalo News, Legacy.com, Observer Media Group, Emily Barr, Carol Horton and the Local Media Association.