A reporter from Philly was hit by a car on live TV. It went viral, but highlighted safety risks.
“I just got hit by a car, but I’m okay,” Yorgey can be heard saying.
A reporter and Philadelphia-area native went viral when she was hit by a car on live television on her last week on the job. But some reporters are calling the clip out as an example of unsafe work conditions that they deal with in the field.
Tori Yorgey, a breaking-news reporter for WSAZ-TV in West Virginia, was reporting from the scene of inclement weather in Dunbar, W.Va., on Wednesday when she was hit by a car, knocking her out of view. She quickly recovered, reassuring the on-air anchor that she was fine, sounding shaken but marching forward with reporting the news.
“I just got hit by a car, but I’m OK,” Yorgey could be heard saying. “I just got hit by a car, but I’m OK, Tim.”
“We’re all good. I’m OK. That’s live TV for you.”
Yorgey and WSAZ did not immediately respond to requests for comment but she did tweet: “Wow. I am flattered by the kindness and well wishes. I am feeling fine, just a little sore! Thank you all so much.
“For the record: [Yorgey’s on air partner Tim Irr] couldn’t see what was happening in that moment. He is one of the kindest people I know, and was first to call to check on me.”
The driver of the car that hit Yorgey was heard stopping to check on her, with Yorgey telling the driver she was not hurt. Yorgey went to a hospital for a checkup and is doing fine, according to NBC’s Today show.
The viral clip was filmed in Yorgey’s last week on the job at WSAZ, as she’s set to start as a reporter for WTAE-TV in Pittsburgh. According to a profile in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Yorgey was born and raised outside of Philadelphia and graduated from Pennsylvania State University. According to More Than the Curve, Yorgey graduated in 2014 from Plymouth-Whitemarsh High School in Plymouth Meeting.
Yorgey turned down several job offers in other parts of the country to take her new gig in Pittsburgh, bringing her back to her native Pennsylvania. Her first day is Feb. 1.
“I want to cover as much of my home state as I can,” Yorgey told the Post-Gazette. “I’m just excited to be back in Pennsylvania. I love it there.”
While the video has been highlighted by some as an example of resiliency in reporting, some reporters saw Yorgey’s hit as another example of a lack of sufficient safety protocols out in the field. Yorgey was broadcasting by herself, without a videographer or additional help.
Denver Post reporter Elizabeth Hernandez said the video was proof that the industry needed to be revamped to protect journalists from dangerous situations like Yorgey’s.
“A journalist getting hit by a car live on air & continuing her job is not a story of resilience but of a sick industry & work culture that pressures ppl to put their job above their health/safety,” Hernandez wrote on Twitter.
Former television reporter Suzie Hunter, who most recently worked at WTNH in New Haven, Conn., saw the video as alarming, an example of how an industry that stresses deadlines and self-sufficiency can leave reporters in dangerous positions.
“My first thought: This is exactly why no reporter should be asked to run their own live shot,” Hunter told The Inquirer. “The industry has changed so much in recent years and I think a lot of people don’t realize that young reporters are often sent out as a ‘one man band,’ doing it all themselves. I think that’s so unsafe, especially when it comes to a live shot. In that moment you’re so focused on giving a good report, plus you have an earpiece in, you really can’t hear or see what is happening around you. And it’s so unfortunate that this is the norm, especially in small markets like that.”
As she watched the video of the accident, Today’s Savannah Guthrie commended Yorgey on her dedication to the job.
“She is my hero,” said Guthrie. “I hope she got a big job, because she’s an intrepid reporter. I’m impressed.”
It’s not the first time a Pennsylvania reporter has kept their cool after abruptly being interrupted. In 2014, Fox 29 reporter Steve Keeley was pummeled by snow as a snowplow drove past during live television. Keeley kept his composure and continued with the broadcast.
The fact that Yorgey continued with the broadcast was encouraging, as it seemed to show she was OK, but her bosses should not have let her continue while they made sure she was safe, said Hunter.
“She should have never been put in this position to continue that live shot, after something so dangerous and potentially fatal happened to her,” said Hunter. “I am so glad that she seems to be physically OK, but being expected to be resilient is exhausting. There is definitely a culture of, this is how I am paying my dues in this industry. But if we keep putting young reporters through this, this industry won’t retain talent.”