TV Coverage of Flooding in NYC Described as Sorely Lacking

May 10, 2007
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An unnamed employee of one of the network-owned and operated TV stations in New York City had some harsh words for the TV stations' coverage of the deadly Ida-induced flooding in the city.

The employee expressed those criticisms in an email that was sent to Scott Jones, who writes the media-related column FTVLive online seven days a week.

You can read that email here: New York Stations Dropped The Ball of Flooding — FTVLive
 
Feb 19, 2021
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The NYC stations' news directors have a near-religious belief that "New Yorkers are too sophisticated to care about weather." I paid a sales call (for television equipment for storm coverage) during a period where NYC was under a severe thunderstorm warning. The ND, with whom I was meeting, couldn't have cared less.

I don't see what will change it. It is a mythology.
 

John Farley

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Apr 1, 2004
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Yeah, he struck out with that one. People didn’t die because of a lack of network TV affiliate coverage of the floods.
How do you know that, Rob? What makes you so sure that, had some people gotten timely information from TV, perhaps along with some live video to give them confirmation of what was happening, they would not have taken action that could have saved their lives. I am not saying definitively that better coverage would have saved lives, but what makes you so sure that it would not have? I was watching the Weather Channel that night, and even with their tendency to sometimes overhype things, there was a sense of urgency among some of their mets that went beyond anything that usually happens. Had local TV put out the same message, I think it is at least possible that some lives could have been saved.
 

rdale

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Mar 1, 2004
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A lot of "mights" and "coulds" - and I have said that it was a mistake to not be on air. My point is suggesting they have "blood on their hands" is way overboard - especially when WEA sent both the tornado warning and catastrophic flash flood warnings to their phones.
 

Warren Faidley

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May 7, 2006
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The overall timely / live / extended coverage of natural disasters is pitiful now days. Local networks are obsessed with not interrupting the garbage shows people watch now days and the major networks are competing for political / editorial sewage. TWC only focuses on their major markets, otherwise it's Buttcrack Truckers or something like that. There was a a time when networks treated major weather events as breaking news and local outlets went live. Maybe with the advent of additional weather channels (e.g., Fox Weather), there will more incentive to compete for live coverage.
 
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Feb 19, 2021
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especially when WEA sent both the tornado warning and catastrophic flash flood warnings to their phones.
Rob,

Given the NYC Mayor de Blasio has contended, over and over, they didn't have enough notice, I'm curious as to how you know that WEA went off on a timely basis for the tornado and flash flood warnings in all five boroughs? Is there a resource to check this sort of thing?


Everyone,

From Saturday's Wall Street Journal, Hurricane Ida Leaves Trail of Damage From South to Northeast ,

We did not get an alert that said you are going to have massive, unprecedented rain on Wednesday night, he [de Blasio] said.


Best wishes,
Mike
 

rdale

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Mar 1, 2004
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Given the NYC Mayor de Blasio has contended, over and over, they didn't have enough notice
He lied. His office and the Governor's office were both told of heavy rain with 6" possible.

I'm curious as to how you know that WEA went off on a timely basis for the tornado and flash flood warnings in all five boroughs? Is there a resource to check this sort of thing?
WEA is an automated system where all Tornado Warning and all extreme FFWs are disseminated.

PBS - WARN shows expired alerts where you can see the timeline for NYC.

Plus the city used their app to notify people.
 

John Farley

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Of course, ,whether they actually got the warnings depends on whether they had phones, and if so, what settings they had regarding alerts. But glad to see you agree it was a mistake not to be on the air, Rob. In general, the more ways warnings go out, the better. It was a big miss for the stations not to have gone live, given the gravity of the situation.
 
Jul 5, 2009
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The overall timely / live / extended coverage of natural disasters is pitiful now days. Local networks are obsessed with not interrupting the garbage shows people watch now days and the major networks are competing for political / editorial sewage. TWC only focuses on their major markets, otherwise it's Buttcrack Truckers or something like that. There was a a time when networks treated major weather events as breaking news and local outlets went live. Maybe with the advent of additional weather channels (e.g., Fox Weather), there will more incentive to compete for live coverage.
Funny anecdote from this night, but in PA/NJ, not NY... When I finally arrived home after “chasing,” I was watching live network coverage with two meteorologists on-camera, including a very long-time and respected one in the Philadelphia area. They were tracking a tornado-warned cell moving further and further into NJ, and at one point one of them, almost thinking out loud, said “Oh! I think that’s out of our viewing area! Maybe we should go back to our regular programming!” It sounded pretty funny, like “Oh good, it’s out of our area, screw those people.” Of course it wasn’t meant like that, just sounded odd in the moment...
 

Lou Ruh

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May 17, 2007
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I was a bit busy (with fire dept. stuff), but, after 8pm I only saw one of the Philadelphia market big 4 stick with storm coverage that night. On 7/29 it looked like none of them did as far as I could tell. When I asked one of the mets about it, he said he went home (there was a brief lull in the warnings that night) and he pretty much said continuing the coverage would likely have not been approved by the station.
 
Jul 5, 2009
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I was a bit busy (with fire dept. stuff), but, after 8pm I only saw one of the Philadelphia market big 4 stick with storm coverage that night. On 7/29 it looked like none of them did as far as I could tell. When I asked one of the mets about it, he said he went home (there was a brief lull in the warnings that night) and he pretty much said continuing the coverage would likely have not been approved by the station.
That timing sounds about right. I got home sometime between 7:30 and 8:00, and that’s when I saw the TV anecdote I shared above. So it was before 8 that the last area of rotation was exiting the Philadelphia viewing area, according to the mets in question.
 

Lou Ruh

EF3
May 17, 2007
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That timing sounds about right. I got home sometime between 7:30 and 8:00, and that’s when I saw the TV anecdote I shared above. So it was before 8 that the last area of rotation was exiting the Philadelphia viewing area, according to the mets in question.
One station saw fit to continue coverage beyond 8 due to the severe flooding. Life threatening in its own right. July 29 was bad because the tornadoes and warnings continued all the way to the Jersey shore with no TV coverage (except the crawls of the warnings).