As the coronavirus has developed over the course of the past months, weeks, and days, our plans have changed and so have our lives. And it appears this will be the norm for a while. In this series (duration: a few weeks to… not sure?), we’ll share the stories of people who have confronted the unexpected in interesting ways. Today, we have NY1 breaking news reporter Lindsay Tuchman.
I joined NY1 in January 2017, after working as an anchor and reporter in Salisbury, Maryland. I was born in New York, so I always knew I wanted to come back here. I happened to be in town one weekend, and I thought, “Let’s see if I can get an interview.” I reached out and got an interview that day. I think they happened to be looking for someone, so I got hired [quickly]. I started as a Staten Island reporter, then, eventually, that morphed into a general assignment reporter position, and I also anchored the borough segments. Now, I’m the morning show’s breaking news reporter.
The biggest difference about reporting in New York City is the volume of news, especially compared to a small market where we were digging for stories every day. In New York, every day there’s something different. You meet a lot of people, and being at the forefront of some of the biggest stories in the world is pretty crazy. NY1 is an essential part of a lot of people’s lives in New York. We’re expected to deliver very local news and get all the information our viewers need.
As a breaking news reporter, I typically wake up at 3:30 in the morning. I get ready a little bit at home, Uber into the station, then I do my makeup at work, get some coffee. I’ll read all the emails from the night before and see what’s going on. Sometimes you can kind of guess what the story is, but that’s not every day.
I meet with the producer at 4:30 a.m., and they tell me my story. If it’s something like a fire in the Bronx, I’d head up there to check it out and talk to people on the scene. If there’s a change in the subways—the L train for instance—I’d head to Bedford Avenue and talk to commuters about how they feel. Digesting information really quickly has become a new skill of mine. There’s a lot of adrenaline involved, but it also feels very purposeful.
Typically, if we were reporting something like the story in the Bronx, we’d all meet up at the station, and I would drive with the crew in the live truck and a photographer would follow in their own car. We’d all leave the station at around like 5 a.m., and we’d be on by 6 a.m. We work very closely together the whole time. I normally spend the whole day in the live truck, gathering content and stuff like that.
Since the coronavirus crisis began, we’ve been reporting on that almost exclusively, and everyone has had to figure out how to deliver the same news safely from the field. Luckily, I was able to bring a car from work home, so now, instead of going to the station in the morning, I wake up, get ready at home, then call the producer, who’s also at home, and get my assignment. Then I drive to the location by myself. When I meet up with the crew, we don’t really interact or talk beforehand. The shooter will set up their camera, I’ll work in the car, and then we stand six feet apart to film the live shot.
The first coronavirus story I reported was about the subways. I interviewed people at Columbus Circle about whether they’d changed the way they ride the subway. I think this was on the day that the city recommended that people try to maintain a six-foot distance from each other. Some people were like, “I’m wearing gloves, washing my hands,” and some were like, “I don’t really care.” It was in the very early stages, so some were taking it extremely seriously and some weren’t, but it was still very crowded.
About two weeks ago, we covered the MTA again when service was slashed by 25% because they didn’t have the manpower to run it. We went to Union Square that day to see how it was impacting people. Most of the people who we talked to were essential workers. Since then, we’ve learned that subways are getting a little overcrowded because there’s less service, so we’re definitely following that.
Before this, in the morning, it just felt like I was preparing for a day of work—not that I don’t feel connected to the stories, but sometimes they don’t directly impact me. Now when I read the news in bed in the morning, I’ll think two things: (1) This is probably my story for today and (2) How does this impact me and my family? I have an awareness of how to approach the news as a storyteller and reporter, and I’m also applying it to my own life.
This is definitely the biggest story I’ve ever covered. I’ve been doing this for almost seven years, which is not an enormous amount of time, but my dad has been a journalist for 30 years, and this is one of the biggest stories he’s ever covered, too. It feels really important. We’re here to sort fact from fiction. There’s a lot of pressure coming from various political agendas, but at the end of the day, people watch NY1 to get every bit of information that will help them. That’s why I wanted to do this job growing up.
Reporting on Covid-19 has certainly made me aware of how much our lives depend on each other. I’ve also been surprised by how every day, a new decision is being made. I feel like we weren’t necessarily prepared for this kind of emergency, but at the same time, I think people are listening. We learned from 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy that New Yorkers come together.
I was just talking to someone yesterday about what it will be like to be back at work. I think people will be excited to see each other again, but while lots of other people will go back to their jobs as normal, I have a feeling our jobs will revolve around the aftermath of the coronavirus a lot. I was too young to be working during September 11, but I have heard from my coworkers that it was similar in the sense that even after it was cleaned up, even after [so many years], they’re still covering stories about September 11. But I think it’ll be nice to kind of go back to the office. It’s hard working remotely like this when you’re so used to being together and talking face to face.
Just last week, we did a story about FEMA sending in ambulances and paramedics and EMTs to help with 911 calls because they’ve just been overrun. All of these ambulances were pulling out, and I was standing there with some other journalists, EMTs, FDNY, and the mayor. Everyone was waving to the ambulances as they left, and I asked the mayor, “How did you feel seeing all those ambulances heading out to go save lives?” And he was like, “It was really touching. It almost made me cry.” And I said, “Gosh, it almost made me cry, too.” And he said, “But it gives me hope that there are so many people coming out to help.”
Photos provided by Lindsay Tuchman.