In New York, Immersive Flood Coverage Raises Questions

By Andrew Gauthier 


As heavy rain hit the New York-New Jersey area over the weekend, local news directors sent reporters and anchors out into the field to cover the flooding in raincoats and galoshes. Their effort to illustrate the extent of the water damage, though, raised questions about the need for such field reporting and made one reporter into a “Daily Show” punchline.

Lucy Yang is a veteran reporter who has been with WABC since 1993. On Monday night, though, she found herself in the cross-hairs of Jon Stewart‘s humor. The regular “Daily Show” segment “Moment of Zen” featured video of Yang reporting on the flooding in New Jersey while sitting in a raft on a flooded street. As she emphasized the toll of the flooding on local residents, a man walked into the shot–showing the water in the area to be just ankle-deep. (Video here)


In the wake of Yang’s “Moment of Zen,” New York Daily News media columnist Richard Huff wondered if such immersive field reporting was necessary. “Having anchors on the scene of a big story added an extra element to the story,” Huff wrote, “but bordered on a stunt.”