ANALYSIS: How Michigan And National Reporters Covered The Flint Water Crisis

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Michigan Governor Rick Snyder declared a state of emergency for the city of Flint on January 5, 2016, due to dangerously high levels of lead contamination in the drinking water. This announcement finally drove Flint's plight into the national media spotlight, but while you wouldn't have known it from watching the country's major news programs or reading its biggest newspapers, Flint's water crisis began more than a year earlier. Thankfully, local TV affiliates and reporters from Michigan Radio and The Flint Journal-MLive aggressively covered the story from the beginning, while some of the most impactful revelations surfaced thanks to the efforts of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Michigan's Curt Guyette, non-governmental experts, and Flint residents themselves. National media were almost universally late to the story, even as it became apparent that Snyder administration appointees and officials stood in the way of addressing Flint's water problems and even altered data, preventing federal action. Among national media figures, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow stood out for her extensive coverage in December 2015, when she devoted far more time to the situation in Flint than every other major television network combined.

The Flint Journal, Michigan Radio, And Local TV Affiliates Provided Extensive Coverage From The Beginning

Flint Residents, Outside Investigative Reporters, And Health Experts Propelled The Story Forward

Detroit Newspapers Covered Flint Water Crisis On And Off In 2015

National Media Largely Overlooked Flint Water Crisis Until 2016

National Media Figures Weigh In On How They -- Or Others -- Dropped The Ball On Flint

How Media Covered The Flint Water Crisis, By The Numbers

The Flint Journal, Michigan Radio, And Local TV Affiliates Provided Extensive Coverage From The Beginning

Several Michigan outlets were on the story from the outset, beginning when officials flipped the switch to source the city's water from the Flint River instead of Lake Huron (via the Detroit water system). Those outlets were Michigan Radio (the NPR affiliate serving southern Michigan), The Flint Journal (a property of MLive Media Group), and the local TV affiliates in Flint.

The state-appointed emergency manager made the decision to use the Flint River water as an interim source in 2013 while a new pipeline was being built to Lake Huron under the Karegondi Water Authority. The Flint Journal editorial board favored the decision at the time, noting it would free the city from water rate increases instigated by the city of Detroit and “allow the city to make sorely needed infrastructure improvements and avoid insolvency in the water fund.” [The Flint Journal-MLive, 1/21/16; 4/13/14]

But the new source of water was also a source of many compounding problems. Throughout 2014, The Flint Journal-MLive was the outlet to turn to for breaking developments, such as:

  • Residents began to complain about the water's taste and smell. Reporter Ron Fonger first reported on May 23 that a state official noted there were a “couple of complaints logged” to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. A Flint resident told MLive that the water was “murky or foamy at times,” and a Flint Councilman said he had noticed a “stronger chlorine smell” than the water had before. [The Flint Journal-MLive, 5/23/14]
  • The city issued multiple boil advisories due to the presence of fecal coliform bacteria, or E. coli. The Flint Journal reported that experts said the boil advisories were a sign that the water system was also vulnerable to other forms of contamination. [The Flint Journal-MLive, 9/14/14]
  • Flint's water contained levels of chloride -- the sanitation product used to kill E. coli and other contaminants -- so high that a General Motors plant in Flint opted to stop using the water out of concerns that it would cause engine parts to rust. [The Flint Journal-MLive, 10/13/14]

The Flint Journal-MLive continued to aggressively pursue the story in 2015, tracking a number of major developments. For example:

  • The Flint City Council voted to go back to purchasing water from the Detroit water system, only to be overruled by the state-appointed emergency manager, who called the city council's vote “incomprehensible.” [The Flint Journal-MLive, 3/24/15]
  • Virginia Tech researchers published findings showing that Flint's water contained high levels of lead and noted that the water was “creating a public health threat.” [The Flint Journal-MLive, 9/2/15]

Michigan Radio also devoted consistent coverage to the situation in Flint and brought news of the growing crisis to a wider audience. Michigan Radio first reported issues with Flint's water supply in June 2014, and detailed a number of other important aspects of the story in early- and mid-2015:

  • The Flint water department received many complaints about the smell and taste of the city's water. [Michigan Radio, 6/15/14]
  • Flint residents were notified that their water system violated the Safe Drinking Water Act, with tests revealing high levels of total trihalomethane (TTHM), a byproduct of chloride that has been linked to cancer and other health problems. [Michigan Radio, 1/7/15]
  • Flint mayor Dayne Walling sent a letter to Governor Rick Snyder demanding the governor “take action” to help the city address its water problems. [Michigan Radio, 1/21/15]
  • The ACLU uncovered a memo from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) showing that an official with the federal agency had serious concerns about lead in Flint's water. But the spokesman for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality dismissed the memo, declaring, “anyone who is concerned about lead in the drinking water in Flint can relax.” [Michigan Radio, 7/13/15]
  • Michigan's Department of Environmental Quality altered a report showing high levels of lead in the city's water, dropping two samples from the results, which put them below the level that would require federal action. [Michigan Radio, 11/5/15]

Michigan Radio also released a three-part documentary called “Not Safe to Drink” on December 14, 15, and 16, 2015. [Michigan Radio, 12/14/15; 12/15/15; 12/16/15]

Local TV stations also extensively covered the Flint crisis from the beginning. The local ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX affiliates serving the Flint region began reporting on the story in 2014, each reporting on the region's E. coli advisories and General Motors' decision to stop using Flint River water. They remained committed to the story throughout 2015. Here are some highlights:

After Flint's second boil advisory due to the presence of E. coli, FOX affiliate WSMH interviewed city councilman Sheldon Neeley, who asserted that “this has been an ongoing problem,” and utilities administrator Daugherty Johnson, who said the city was working to flush the water out to “get more freshwater in the system that has more chlorine content in it.” Neeley concluded that he would be asking his colleagues to “engage in an investigative hearing to figure out what has been happening with the discharge of raw sewage in our Flint River water as well as the boil water advisory”: 

On January 22, 2015, CBS affiliate WNEM aired footage of a city hall meeting packed with more than 200 people worried “about Flint's water woes.” The reporter noted that earlier that month “the city's water was found in violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act. That's because of the high levels of THM which has been linked to cancer and other health problems”:

On January 29, 2015, NBC affiliate WEYI reported that despite a resident wanting the city to switch back to the Detroit water system, the state-appointed emergency manager Jerry Ambrose “says there's a slim-to-none chance of switching back to Detroit.” The report concluded by noting that the resident said “as long as the water comes from the Flint River, she's not drinking it.”

On June 26, 2015, ABC affiliate WJRT reported that the University of Michigan tested the water on its Flint campus and found elevated levels of TTHM, “the same chemical that's been at the center of the city of Flint's water controversy for months.” During the segment, the reporter called the high TTHM levels the “problem that keeps showing up and just doesn't seem to want to go away”:

Flint Residents, Outside Investigative Reporters, And Health Experts Propelled The Story Forward

Flint Resident LeeAnne Walters Credited With Instigating Investigations Into Flint's Water. LeeAnne Walters, a Flint resident and mother of four, pressed the city to investigate her tap water after experiencing months of health problems. Among them: her children were breaking out in bumps and rashes and their hair was falling out. A city official tested her water and found levels of lead more than 20 times greater than the maximum concentration allowed by law, but the city responded by merely using a garden hose to allow her to get water from the house next door. Walters then contacted EPA Midwest water division manager Miguel Del Toral, which according to Mother Jones, “unleashed a chain of investigations,” eventually leading to an analysis carried out by the researchers at Virginia Tech. From Mother Jones:

By contacting Del Toral, Walters unwittingly unleashed a chain of investigations. He introduced her to Marc Edwards, an expert in lead corrosion at Virginia Tech who instructed her to collect new samples from her house without pre-flushing the pipes. In those samples, Edwards found lead concentrations of 13,200 ppb--more than twice the level the EPA classifies as hazardous waste. “At that point, you do not just have smoke, you have a three-alarm fire and should respond immediately,” he told the Detroit News. [Mother Jones, 1/21/16]

Through Water Sampling And Investigative Efforts, ACLU's Curt Guyette Uncovered How The State Was Distorting Lead Data. Investigative reporter Curt Guyette, who works for the ACLU of Michigan, is also largely credited with bringing the crisis' full extent to light. The Columbia Journalism Review explained how Guyette uncovered the EPA memo showing that the state of Michigan's “process for lead testing in Flint's water delivered artificially low results,” and how he worked with Virginia Tech researcher Marc Edwards to test the water and confirm it was contaminated with lead:

Guyette had been following the story of lead in Flint's water for months, even as officials assured residents and the media that everything was under control. Over the summer, he'd helped produce a mini-documentary about concerns with the water for the ACLU of Michigan, where he works as an investigative reporter. That led to a scoop--a leaked memo from a US Environmental Protection Agency official that explained how Michigan's process for lead testing in Flint's water delivered artificially low results.

Now, a researcher from Virginia Tech was conducting an independent evaluation, and Guyette wasn't just following the story, he was in the middle of it. Initial assessments by the researcher, Marc Edwards, had already found dangerously high levels of lead in the water in many Flint homes--the consequence of a series of questionable government decisions. More tests, taken with the samples collected by Guyette and others, confirmed the problem with the water. Soon, a local doctor was reporting elevated blood-lead levels in Flint children, too, and county officials were declaring a public health emergency. [Columbia Journalism Review, 11/3/15]

Flint Pediatrician Confirmed Lead Poisoning Epidemic In Children, Finally Leading To State Action. Weeks after the Virginia Tech researchers released their study, Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha of Flint's Hurley Medical Center released data showing that the percentage of Flint children with lead poisoning had nearly doubled since the city switched to Flint River water, and nearly tripled among children in “high risk” areas. Just days later, Gov. Rick Snyder finally declared a public health emergency over Flint's water. The Detroit Free Press reported that Hanna-Attisha's work “forced the state of Michigan to snap to attention” on the issue of lead in Flint's water, and stated that without her efforts, “the public might still be in the dark about the lead contamination poisoning the water supply in Flint, Michigan.” [The Flint Journal-MLive, 9/24/15; Associated Press, 10/2/15; Detroit Free Press, 10/12/15;, 1/21/16]

Detroit Newspapers Covered Flint Water Crisis On And Off In 2015

Detroit Newspapers First Covered Flint's Water Problems In January 2015. The Detroit Free Press and Detroit News both first reported on the situation in Flint on January 20, 2015, when the city of Detroit's Water and Sewage Department offered to reconnect Flint to its water system. These reports were published a few weeks after the city of Flint issued notices of dangerous levels of TTHM, a disinfection byproduct that is known to cause liver, kidney, and central nervous system problems and increase the risk of cancer. The initial Free Press article reported only that there were concerns the water was “possibly causing skin problems among some children,” while the News article noted that the elevated levels of the disinfection byproduct violated the Safe Drinking Water Act, but did not address any of the specific health concerns associated with TTHM. However, the Free Press published another article three days later that noted the full extent of the health threats associated with TTHM, whereas the News did not do so until February 2. The January 23 Free Press article also included a videotaped interview with several Flint residents explaining some of the many problems with their water. [Detroit Free Press1/20/15; The Detroit News, 1/20/15; The Flint Journal-MLive, 1/2/15Detroit Free Press, 1/23/15; Detroit News, 2/2/15]

After Initial Wave Of Articles, Detroit Newspapers Mostly Remained Silent Until September, When They Began Covering The Flint Crisis Aggressively. After a handful of articles in late January and early February, and one Detroit News article in June, the two Detroit papers did not cover the Flint water crisis again until September. From then on, though, both newspapers reported on the story frequently. But Detroit Free Press coverage stood out against that of The Detroit News in the following ways:

  • The Free Press published nearly twice as many pieces as the News between January 20, 2015 and January 5, 2016, when the state of emergency was declared (60 Free Press pieces compared to 32 News pieces).
  • While the News did report on important aspects of the story, it did not carry out in-depth investigations, break any major developments first, or publish any opinion pieces on the crisis before January 5, 2016.
  • By contrast, Free Press columnist Nancy Kaffer provided multiple in-depth analyses of the situation. Her interview with resident LeeAnne Walters, which was also published on the USA Today website (The Free Press and USA Today are both owned by Gannett), was cited in The Washington Post's Morning Mix. [Detroit Free Press, 9/27/15; 10/3/15; 10/7/15; 10/29/15; 12/17/15; USA Today, 10/6/15; The Washington Post, 12/15/15]
  • Kaffer also revealed on November 7, 2015 that the state knew that Flint River water was hard and had potential to corrode lead pipes, and that this could have been prevented by purchasing corrosion-reducing phosphates for as little as $60 per day. [Detroit Free Press, 11/7/15]

National Media Largely Overlooked Flint Water Crisis Until 2016

Most Major U.S. Newspapers Ignored Flint Crisis Until 2016. Very few newspapers outside of Michigan covered the story at all before a state of emergency was declared on January 5, 2016, excluding news briefings, wire reports, and web-only content. According to a Nexis search of “major newspapers,” The New York Times was the only major newspaper outside of Michigan to publish multiple stories on the Flint saga in 2015, writing about it three times. However, The Blade in Toledo, Ohio, which is not included in that search, also published at least four pieces about Flint's water crisis. [The New York Times, 3/24/15; 10/7/15; 10/8/15; Star-Ledger, 1/3/16; The Boston Globe, 10/8/15; The Wall Street Journal, 12/15/15; The Blade, 2/11/15; 10/2/15 10/14/15; 11/13/15]*

Several Other Outlets Provided Extensive Coverage After Lead Contamination Findings. The Associated Press, NPR, and Al Jazeera America all covered Flint's water crisis extensively beginning in late September 2015, when it was confirmed that the city's water was contaminated with lead:

Fox, CNN Primetime Shows And ABC Evening and Sunday News Shows Ignored Flint Crisis Until 2016; CBS, NBC, And PBS Covered It Briefly. According to a Nexis search, Fox News' and CNN's primetime programming completely ignored the Flint water crisis before January 5, 2016, as did ABC's World News Tonight and This Week. CBS covered the story on its nightly news program twice in October, and NBC and PBS each covered it on their nightly news programs once. Excluding MSNBC, the major networks' combined primetime coverage of the story prior to January 5, 2016 totaled just five minutes and 30 seconds.**

MSNBC's Maddow Covered Story Extensively Beginning In December 2015, Asserting: “This Is Not A Story We Are Going To Walk Away From.” MSNBC's Rachel Maddow did not begin covering the situation in Flint until December 2015, but from that point until a state of emergency was declared, she devoted far more coverage to the story than all of the other networks combined. She addressed the crisis on The Rachel Maddow Show six times prior to January 5, 2016, for a total of over 68 minutes of coverage.** On the December 29 edition of her show, Maddow asserted: “This is not a story we are going to walk away from.” Later, on January 27, 2016, she hosted a town hall in Flint to address the issue with the city's residents and local officials. [, 1/27/16]



National Media Figures Weigh In On How They -- Or Others -- Dropped The Ball On Flint

New York Times Public Editor: “There Could Have Been, And Should Have Been, Much More” Reporting On Flint Water Crisis. New York Times Public Editor Margaret Sullivan said there “could have been, and should have been, much more” coverage in The Times of Flint's water crisis. She noted that the newspaper published a “frightening article” about the water in March 2015, but then “more than six months went by” before the paper published two more articles in October, and then The Times wrote “nothing of substance until [January 2016], when a state of emergency was declared in Flint.” She said The Times “got off to a strong start with its initial Flint story” but that the paper missed an opportunity to follow up “with some serious digging,” which might have “shamed” public officials “into taking action long before they did.” She continued:

Imagine if The Times really had taken on the Flint outrage with energy and persistence many months ago. With its powerful pulpit and reach, The Times could have held public officials accountable and prevented human suffering. That's what journalistic watchdogs are supposed to do. As traditional local investigative reporting withers, The Times's role becomes ever more important.

Yes, that takes journalistic resources. Investigative reporting is notoriously time-consuming. But are such resources really unavailable?

After all, enough Times firepower somehow has been found to document Hillary Clinton's every sneeze, Donald Trump's latest bombast, and Marco Rubio's shiny boots. There seem to be plenty of Times resources for such hit-seeking missives as “breadfacing” or the Magazine's thorough exploration of buffalo plaid and “lumbersexuals.” And staff was available to produce this week's dare-you-not-to-click video on the rising social movement known as “Free the Nipple.”


If The Times had kept the pressure on the Flint story, the resulting journalism might not have made the “trending” list -- but it would have made a real difference to the people of Flint, who were in serious need of a powerful ally. [The New York Times, 1/27/16]

National Journal's Ron Fournier Admitted He “Blew It.” In a January 20 National Journal column headlined “How Government--and This Columnist--Failed Flint,” Fournier acknowledged that he “blew it” by failing to bring up Flint's water crisis in a December 2015 column about Michigan Governor Rick Snyder's “refreshing approach to politics.” [National Journal, 1/20/16]

CNN's Jake Tapper Apologized For Taking “So Long To Get On This Story.” During an interview with Flint Mayor Karen Weaver on the January 20 edition of CNN's The Lead with Jake Tapper, Tapper apologized for failing to cover the Flint crisis over the many months that it was becoming worse and worse. After promising to “shame” Snyder or President Obama if they don't provide Weaver with “the response you need,” Tapper admitted, “I'm sorry that it took us so long to get on this story.” [CNN, The Lead with Jake Tapper, 1/20/16 via Media Matters]

Fox News' Media Critic: Flint Crisis “Hardly The Media's Finest Hour.” On the January 31 edition of Fox News' Media Buzz, host Howard Kurtz said the Flint water crisis “is a national disgrace and hardly the media' finest hour.” Kurtz said that “local journalist Curt Guyette did the most to cover this outrage, but he was working for the ACLU, not a news organization.” He added that the New York Times “deserves credit” for its initial story on Flint's water and MSNBC also “touched on the problem,” before pointing to Margaret Sullivan's critique of the Times' overall coverage. Kurtz concluded: “Good for Margaret Sullivan for challenging her paper and really, all of us, to do better.”

Poynter Institute Noted Criticism Of National Media Coverage, Praise For Local Coverage. In a column headlined “How the media blew Flint,” James Warren, chief media writer for the Poynter Institute, said that national media coverage of Flint's water crisis “seem[s] a little belated.” He quoted David Poulson of Michigan State University's Knight Center for Environmental Journalism, who said that “perhaps aggressive coverage of local government under the state-appointed financial manager would have caught the issue earlier, or even prevented it from happening.” He also cited Tom Henry, a reporter for Toledo's The Blade, who argued that “a lot” of the media failure “comes down to the decay of American journalism as well as decay of local government as costs for roads, sewers, police and everything else crippled budgets.” However, Warren reported that Poulson gave “good marks” to local reporters “including Ron Fonger at The Flint Journal and Michigan Public Radio,” and Henry gave “kudos” to “Chad Livengood and Jim Lynch of the Detroit News and also to the Detroit Free Press.”

John Hiner, vice president of content at MLive, wrote a letter in response to Warren's column, disputing what he said was the incorrect suggestion by Warren's sources that “local journalists were lax in following the story, or too inexperienced to know how to handle it, due in part to cuts in staffing in newsrooms” (Poulson noted in Warren's piece that MLive had “just announced another round of downsizing,” but Hiner responded that the only position eliminated from the Flint Journal newsroom was an entertainment writer). Hiner noted that journalists at The Flint Journal have “doggedly reported” the story from the beginning, adding:

More than 500 stories have been written by reporters at The Journal since January 2014, chronicling the descent into this public health hell. There have been revelations, forceful editorials and explanatory journalism. The anguish of residents and local elected leaders, all powerless under the governor's series of appointed emergency managers, was front and center in all of the coverage. [Poynter, 1/22/16; 1/28/16]

Syndicated Columnist Leonard Pitts: News Media “Failed” Its “Mission” And “Left The Poor Under Cover Of Darkness.” Syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts wrote on January 19:

It was in April of 2014 that the water turned bad. Residents of Flint reported that the stuff smelled. It was yellowish brown. You drank it and your hair fell out. Or you developed a rash. Or you were nauseous.

Again, this was in April.

According to a computer search, it was not until the following January that the Detroit Free Press, just an hour down the road, took note. It wasn't until March that The New York Times began reporting the story. It wasn't until Jan. 5th of this year -- almost two years later -- that Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder saw fit to declare a state of emergency and nine days afterward that he asked President Obama to declare the city a disaster area.

And it is not until today that yours truly is writing about it.


[N]ews media have left the poor under cover of darkness. Our light shines on politics, the middle class, technological gimmickry and celebrity gossip, yes. But on those the Bible calls “the least of these”? Not so much. Our inattention frees politicians to ignore them as well. And all of a sudden you look up and it's been almost two years since 100,000 people had safe water to drink and we're just beginning to notice.

That's unconscionable. News media's mission, it is often said, is to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted. Where the plight of the nation's poor is concerned, we seem to have failed on both counts. [Miami Herald, 1/19/16]

How Media Covered The Flint Water Crisis, By The Numbers

More Than 500 Articles published by Michigan Radio and The Flint Journal-MLive before Governor Snyder declared a State of Emergency on January 5, 2016.

More Than 68 Minutes devoted to the crisis on MSNBC's primetime programming in December and the first four days of January -- all of which took place on Rachel Maddow's show. That was far more than all the other broadcast and cable networks' primetime coverage of Flint, combined.

Five Months after news of E. coli outbreaks in Flint water, the major Detroit newspapers -- the Detroit Free Press and Detroit News -- started to report on the story.

92 Articles published prior to the state of emergency by the Detroit newspapers once they were on the case.

Seven Months after the first E. coli outbreak, two major media outlets reported on the story for the first time: The New York Times and The Associated Press (excluding Associated Press local wires). Most other major outlets took much longer than even that.

More Than One Year after the E. coli outbreak, the story finally reached additional national outlets. In October 2015, soon after it was confirmed by the Hurley Medical Center that Flint's water was contaminated by extremely high levels of lead and hundreds of children were diagnosed with lead poisoning, CBS and NBC covered the story. Yet most outlets reported on it just a couple of times and then moved on. Al Jazeera America, NPR, and The Associated Press extensively covered the story from October onward, but they were exceptions. [CBS Detroit, 10/15/15]

Less Than Six Minutes of airtime on network nightly news devoted to Flint's water crisis prior to the state of emergency declaration. There were five combined segments about the Flint crisis on CBS, NBC, and PBS nightly news programming prior to January 5, 2016, totalling five minutes and 30 seconds of coverage.

Zero Minutes of coverage of the Flint water crisis on CNN and Fox News primetime programming or ABC's evening or Sunday news programs prior to January 5, 2016, when the state of emergency was declared.

12 Major Developments showing that Flint was going through a major public health crisis that deserved nationwide attention -- but didn't receive it:

  • The city issued three boil advisories after finding fecal coliform bacteria, or E. coli, in the water, a sign that the system was vulnerable to other types of contamination. (August-September 2014)
  • General Motors stopped using Flint River water at its local engine plant, noting that the amount of chloride pumped into water to kill E. coli was high enough to corrode car parts. (October 2014)
  • The city found dangerous levels of total trihalomethanes (TTHM) in the water. TTHM is a byproduct of chloride -- which was used in an attempt to sanitize the water -- and is known to cause liver, kidney, and central nervous system problems and increase the risk of cancer. TTHM poses particular risks to children and the elderly. (January 2, 2015)
  • Given the clear signs that the city's water was unsafe, the Flint City Council voted to go back to getting water from the Detroit water system, only to be overruled by the state-appointed emergency manager, who called the city council's vote “incomprehensible.” (March 24, 2015)
  • A coalition of local groups filed a lawsuit attempting to force the city to purchase water from the city of Detroit, but the lawsuit was rejected by a federal judge. (June 2015)
  • The ACLU uncovered a memo from the EPA showing that an official from the federal agency had serious concerns about lead in Flint's water. (July 13, 2015)
  • Virginia Tech researchers published findings showing that Flint's water contained high levels of lead, and noted that the water was “creating a public health threat.” (September 2, 2015)
  • An ACLU investigation found a number of flaws in the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality's water testing procedures, including cherry-picking the homes that were sampled, which artificially produced lead levels that were below those necessary to require federal action. (September 16, 2015)
  • An analysis from Flint's Hurley Medical Center led by Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha found “an alarming increase in lead poisoning” among infants and children in Flint, according to The Flint Journal-MLive. (September 24, 2015)
  • The Genesee County Commissioner declared a public health emergency in Flint, advising residents not to drink the water as long as it was coming from the Flint River. (October 1, 2015)
  • Flint reconnected to the Detroit water system, but the corroded lead pipes remained. (October 16, 2015)
  • Mayor Karen Weaver declared a state of emergency in Flint, requesting state and federal help to address the crisis. (December 14, 2015)

*Based on a Nexis search of “Major U.S. Newspapers” for “flint AND water” and a Factiva search of The Wall Street Journal from April 24, 2014 through January 5, 2016.

**Based on a Nexis search of ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC for “flint AND water” from April 24, 2014 through January 5, 2016. This search only included primetime coverage, since daytime programming is not in Nexis for some outlets. CNN aired at least one daytime segment on Flint, and other outlets may have as well. Timestamps were acquired from IQ Media.