Flint, MI—Flint Beat walked away from the 43rd Annual Michigan Emmy Awards on Saturday, June 19 with an Emmy in the Education/Schools – Short or Long Form Content Category.
The winning video was “Everyday is Different” which was shot and produced by Jamal Bransford, Flint Beat’s videographer, and Jiquanda Johnson, Flint Beat’s founder and publisher.
“Everyday is Different” follows a day in the life of a Flint mother, Yanetta Coulter, and her four children during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. The video, which highlighted how Coutler navigated the parent while balancing family and a full-time job. It also introduced solutions by showing the use of a local community center, Sylvester Broome Empowerment Village, to help parents who needed help with online education and their children.
Bransford, who won his first Emmy three years prior, said he was excited about the new addition to his collection of statues.
“I am feeling so excited and honored to be able to win an Emmy. Especially because it’s about our Flint kids and what they went through during the COVID situation. Being able to showcase that on that type of stage, I’m honored,” Bransford said.
Bransford was nominated for two other Emmys this year for his work with Flint Beat.
For Bransford, shooting video during the COVID-19 pandemic was a challenge. He said having to take social distancing into account and being inside people’s homes and a school made him more conscious of his work.
“Having to take all these different levels of precaution was a little bit challenging. I was at a school when kids just got back and I went into a family home. I had to make sure all my equipment was wiped down and that I wasn’t intruding into their personal space because they had not left their house, so being allowed in was a big responsibility,” Bransford said.
For Johnson, who founded Flint Beat in 2017, winning an Emmy initially left her speechless.
For her, “Everyday is Different” and other video work over the past year was more of a litmus test. Johnson wanted to see how video storytelling would fare in Flint’s media market. She and Bransford were also nominated for the Sports Story – News Feature category for “Football Lives Matter.”
“When me and Jamal kicked this off … we set out to tell stories the way we thought they should be told,” she said. “We wanted to see what this type of storytelling would look like in a local market like a small city and I think we proved a point.”
While Flint Beat’s content is mostly written news, Johnson said she wants to continue looking for the best way to tell Flint’s stories including expanding video work.
“One of my goals with Flint Beat is to have an open mind when it comes to news. We identify news gaps and build from there. Both I and Jamal saw a gap and we filled it. We didn’t do it to win an Emmy, we did it to impact and inform our audience. But getting the Emmy just shows that our work is exactly what’s needed,” Johnson said.
For Johnson, the Emmy was as much of a win for Flint Beat as it was for her personally.
“To be honest, video is my passion. When I retire I want to just travel the country telling cool video stories and Jamal has been supportive of that vision and dream and we are starting that with Flint Beat,” Johnson said. “I don’t know where this journey is going to take us but we are going to keep working to produce award-winning content covering underserved and marginalized communities.”
In March, Flint Beat also won third place and received an honorable mention from the Michigan Press Association for “Remembering Dan Holbrook, owner of Dan’s Quickstop in Flint, MI” and “Parking Lot Preaching: Flint pastor steps outside of church walls to bring the word to members.”