Posted in News Now

News coverage of the Moore, Oklahoma tornado disaster

I’ve been watching hours and hours of the tornado coverage in Moore, Oklahoma.  The two-mile wide tornado took out everything in its path. Right now 51 people are said to be dead and 20 of those are children, but those numbers are changing. ( Update 5/21: State officials lowered the number of fatalities after rescue crews recovered the bodies of 24 people.)

Covering this assignment is not easy for reporters.  I’ve covered more than a dozen tornado disasters in my career.

KFOR-TV and KOCO-TV in Oklahoma City have been “live streaming” their coverage on their websites. The reporters and anchors have been informative and calm, and about now they must be tired.

I covered the 1999 tornado in Moore, Oklahoma.  I remember arriving a couple of hours after a huge tornado destroyed parts of the city.  It did look like a war zone–everything destroyed.

As a reporter, your job may be one of collecting information, but there is no doubt it hits you emotionally.  I’ve been fortunate not to have to cover the recovery of the dead at any disaster area I’ve been sent to. But let me tell you–it hurts seeing people around you in shock, crying, confused or grieving.  I try to get through such an assignment by saying to myself “I’m helping people, I helping people.”

KFOR-TV had veteran reporter, Lance West immediately on the scene of the May 20th tornado.  For hours he covered the destruction, and rescue efforts. Suddenly when the story shifted from rescue to recovery, you realized everything was taking its toll on Lance.

I appreciate that the news anchors understood that Lance was having a hard time giving his report. I also appreciate that the producer realized it was time to take the camera off Lance.

Shifting gears, please give to the Red Cross. They’re on the ground helping all the victims of the tornadoes in Oklahoma. Now is the time to reach out.

KFOR-TV immediately started collecting bottled water, diapers, boots, tools, gloves and non-perishible food and more at their TV station. KOCO-TV has Feed the Children in their parking lot collecting donations.

Good luck to the Oklahoma reporters and news photographers who will continue covering this story long after all the national media is gone.


Journalism is my life. I've been a reporter for 36 years. My office is the world. During my career I have been honored with 50 journalism awards and nominations. I'm also an Emmy-nominated TV commentator. I'm currently the VP of Programs for SPJ Fort Worth Chapter. I'm also the former VP of Online for the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

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