By: Gray Television
July 16, 2020
Earlier this year, Gray Television’s national investigative team, InvestigateTV, designed, developed and deployed a series of coronavirus data analysis tools collectively called The COVID-19 Tracker. The maps and charts give our company’s 100 newsrooms a way to find stories and, more importantly, a way for our viewers to explore the data on their own. Our tracker launched on Monday, March 16 with a county-by-county map of COVID-19 cases. At the time, ours was one of the only – if not the only – U.S. map with data broken down by county. In the weeks following, we added more automatically-updating tools that include maps about state testing numbers, tables of cases and deaths by county and metro area, curve charts to track new case and hospitalization trends and archive maps that allow users to isolate any time period to see how cases have changed over time.
These tools have driven our own reports, which we distribute to every Gray Television station, as well as Greta Van Susteren’s weekly political show, “Full Court Press.” They have helped us identify emerging hotspots throughout the pandemic far ahead of other sources and even experts. For example, we saw New Orleans’ cases trending upward at an alarming rate and broke that news well before the national networks began zeroing in on the city. We have highlighted the initially under-covered Albany, Ga., outbreak. We have been able to warn our local stations when we start to see their areas creeping up in the numbers so they can be ready for coverage and use our data to put their numbers in context.
Uniquely, we scrape and merge Johns Hopkins University data with census data to allow users to look at the data in new ways, including by metro area. Our stations also use the maps to find stories and can embed any of the tools within online coverage to add context to their local stories. This allows viewers to see what’s happening in their own region, state, metro area and county.
Throughout the pandemic, we have added to and upgraded our COVID-19 Tracker. With public skepticism of the pandemic and media coverage, we felt it was important to give viewers their own tools to investigate data themselves. Users can move throughout the data in time and geography to come to their own conclusions about public policies, health protocols and trends.
As of July 13, our county map had more than 11 million views and our other tools had millions of combined additional views. The COVID-19 Tracker also caught the attention of experts. For example, a Yale doctor has used our tools to explain coronavirus trends on his social media.
While our industry often communicates with viewers through storytelling, this project gives our audience the keys to our digital files at the same time we have them.
With so much fear and skepticism during the pandemic, we are proud to offer our viewers ways that they can move through different data sets and comparisons to make their own determinations.
For example, someone can go to our new case chart and pick out their own state to see if cases are rising or falling or go deeper and check their metro area. Using any of our tools, viewers can fact-check what we are saying in our stories, push back on what they’re hearing in their community and make decisions for their families.
Bonneville International President and NAB Leadership Foundation Board Chairman Darrell Brown shares the many ways Bonneville stations are promoting community service and building up communities during these unprecedented times.
Amber Key (MSA 2016) talks about her experience at the 2017 Celebration of America Awards and what this ceremony means to her. Don't miss the reminder these awards serve for our industry.
Join the NAB Leadership Foundation as we congratulate the seniors in our Media Sales Academy class! These seniors are committed to their future and a career in media sales.