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Interviews with news makers and discussion of topics important to Southwest Michigan. Subscribe to the podcast through Apple itunes and Google. Segments of interview are heard in WestSouthwest Brief during Morning Edition and All Things Considered

WSW: FiveThirtyEight Examines "What Went Wrong In Flint"

Andrew Jameson, Wikimedia Commons

The reporter who covers public health for FiveThirtyEight says “The official data wasn’t telling us what we needed to know” about the water in Flint. 

Anna-Maria Barry Jester’s story is called What Went Wrong in Flint. FiveThirtyEight is a data-driven journalism site, perhaps best known for politics. But it’s also covered sports, culture and public health stories like the one about lead contamination in Flint’s water.

The story looks at errors in how data was collected, and misinterpretations of the testing done on Flint’s water. Barry-Jester says a combination of experts and Flint residents kept raising questions about the city’s water. She says if it wasn’t for them the story of Flint’s water may not have come to light.

Barry-Jester says there were problems with the number of tests done, and where the samples were taken from. She says there are also a lot of questions still unanswered about the lack of corrosion control on water from the Flint River.

There were also two samples thrown out, according to Barry-Jester. She says that skewed the results. Barry-Jester says there were problems with how the tests were conducted. For example, people in Flint were asked to run their water for two to five minutes to clean out their system. That can make it harder to find lead in the water.

Barry-Jester says the people who questioned assurances from government officials are the heroes of this story. She says that’s the main lesson of the Flint water crisis. Barry-Jester says

“If something doesn’t seem right, I think it’s important to ask questions.”

Image from Wikimedia Commons

Gordon Evans became WMUK's Content Director in 2019 after more than 20 years as an anchor, host and reporter. A 1990 graduate of Michigan State, he began work at WMUK in 1996.
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