VICTORY OVER VIOLENCE
Newsrooms are used to covering crime. Rarely, do they take steps to fix it.
We dared to be different.
Created by KARK and Fox16, the Edward R. Murrow award-winning Victory Over Violence was launched in Little Rock, Arkansas in February 2017 following the shootings deaths of 2-year-old Ramiya Reed and 3-year-old Acen King. VOV operates under the belief that to solve Little Rock’s crime problem, we need to start with ourselves and “be the solution.”
The goal of the effort is to cover crime in a responsible manner focusing on impact, response and solutions. Victory Over Violence aims to unite community groups and leaders in Little Rock and be a resource for combating violence, reducing crime and changing lives through improvements in education, jobs, mentoring, and hunger. The Emmy-nominated campaign features unique content, promotional advertisements, and community initiatives.
After the campaign’s initial launch, we saw a dramatic drop in the homicide rate in Central Arkansas. After being on pace for a near-record 70 homicides in Little Rock in 2017, murders dropped by 25-percent ending at 53. 2018 ended with 40.
- Victory Walks in six Little Rock and one Pine Bluff neighborhoods
- Signed up more than 300 people for mentoring program
- Two citywide prayer rallies featuring pastors from 60+ churches
- Three job fairs with Goodwill featuring more than 140 employers for 2,000 job seekers
- Second chance job training for more than 300 felons
- Internet town hall with LRSD students
- Two town halls with Clinton School of Public Service
- Donated more than $100,000 to partner organizations
- Monthly $1,000 donations to “Difference Makers” in community
In the years that followed, Victory Over Violence expanded to Syracuse, New York (WSYR-TV) and Champaign, Illinois (WCIA-TV).
AMERICAN RED CROSS
Over the last few years, I’ve worked with the American Red Cross on various online fundraising efforts following major events or disasters. In December 2021, we teamed up to raise money for storm victims across 5 states impacted by devastating tornadoes. The result was more than $70,000 raised over a period of a few days.
During that December 2021 fundraising effort, journalists from across Nexstar teamed up to raise awareness and funds through an online stream viewed by more than 100,000 people across various platforms.
DJ’S DAY OF ACTION
D.J. Williams, anchor on KARK’s morning show, has a story that’s more common than you’d think. As a child, he went to live at a shelter due to domestic violence. With help from strong professionals, great teachers and a rock-steady mother, he become one of the most successful tight ends in the NCAA and was drafted into the NFL before transitioning to a television host.
In an effort to help others in the position he once faced, we launched a day-long event to raise money, collect donations, and raise awareness about Women and Children First. WCF provides crisis intervention, safe shelter, social and legal advocacy, and supports services in the Central Arkansas area.
DJ’s Day of Action launched in 2016 and ran throughout all newscasts. It raised as much as $26,000 annually for Women and Children First.
DONNA TERRELL’S YOGA WARRIORS
Little Rock news anchor Donna Terrell has done amazing work honoring the life of her daughter with her charity Yoga Warriors: Fighting Colon Cancer. I’m very proud to say this effort started as a conversation in my office about how Donna could keep Queah’s memory alive. Colon cancer doesn’t get a lot of attention and Donna was very passionate about creating awareness and discussion around the disease.
We ended up landing on yoga as a tool to help cancer patients and survivors relieve stress and anxiety from the diagnosis and treatments. From that brainstorm, Donna took the idea and turned it into a massive initiative that’s generated more than $100,000 for the battle against colon cancer.
Donna continues to do absolutely tremendous work in this area and I couldn’t be more proud of what she’s done to build a lasting legacy for her daughter.
I regularly look forward to supporting this effort when I can. As I told Donna, I plan to show up to a future session unannounced — and I definitely will. You can read much more about the amazing backstory on yogawarriors.org.
SOUPER BOWL OF CARING
As more people sought help during the coronavirus pandemic, I forged a relationship with Souper Bowl of Caring as a community initiative to involve in Nexstar’s annual Super Bowl plans at the market level. The effort grew into much more.
Souper Bowl of Caring is a youth-inspired movement working across the nation to tackle hunger in their local communities. Mobilizing grassroots resources including churches, schools, civic groups and caring individuals, the Souper Bowl of Caring movement has created over $160 million worth of support that stays completely local.
As 2020 was coming to an end, we rolled Souper Bowl of Caring into our annual Vegas NYE initiative. The concept was that this was a year unlike any other — and the traditional “party” atmosphere should be replaced by something more charitable. The result was an effort across multiple markets that culminated in a goal of raising 1 million meals through donations on New Year’s Eve.
That effort helped kick off the Souper Bowl of Caring season that culminated with the 2021 Super Bowl in Tampa. More than a dozen Nexstar stations actively participated in the Souper Bowl of Caring — generating hundreds of thousands of dollars in new donations across the NYE and Souper Bowl campaign.
On a personal level, I’ve always been a fan of the mission of the Salvation Army. My daughter and I recently completed our third red kettle drive in as many years. We’ve made it part of our holiday routine to get out there and ring the bell.