Award Winning Journalist Liz Reyes is a TV News Anchor, Reporter and Television personality at Fox 8 News WVUE New Orleans, with a long and distinguished career covering a wide range of events, topics and individuals in Canada, the United States and Latin America.
No matter where she has lived, Liz believes in community service and contributing her time generously to promote the Arts, Culture and working with local charities especially those dedicated to helping children.
She is often busy in her off hours delivering keynote addresses and performing the role of Guest Speaker at a number of Universities and Schools around the Country, and is often heard touting the importance of education, staying in school and studying hard as well as all the great opportunities that our country has to offer. In 2006 Liz became an American Citizen in a ceremony that also celebrated the reopening of the New Orleans Immigration Office, which had been closed since Hurricane Katrina.
As a child she grew up in Port of Spain Trinidad a cultural melting pot that is renowned for its diversity, and reflected through the exotic fusion of foods brought to the Island by immigrants who arrived from the world over.
An avid traveler and foodie, Liz loves to experience new and exotic culinary delights. At home Liz enjoys relaxing with a good book and loves to help her husband recreate meals from their travels, including delicious Trinidadian curry dishes from her native homeland, and new recipes found in her favorite magazine Sauveur. Liz is pictured below at home in her favorite room…the kitchen, in a 2004 magazine article profiling her.
Career and Education
Early in her childhood her family moved to Toronto Canada where she soon became accustomed to her new home. It was not long after that Liz realized that her goal was to become a Journalist and have a positive influence on peoples lives. Liz early on believed strongly in the duty of the press to deliver accurate, fair, balanced and timely information, and that Journalism was a fundamental cornerstone of our democracy.
Never one to take shortcuts, Liz volunteered and worked as an intern for several shows in Toronto Canada such as TV Ontario’s Financial show MoneysWorth, where she performed research and wrote reports. She also worked for CFMT Channel 47 in Toronto where she worked as a Writer, Reporter, Interviewer and Editor in their Sports Department, as well as theirCurrent Affairs Program “Upfront” working as the Host, Researcher, Writer, Reporter. Later on she worked as an Editorial Assistant for CBC National TV Newsroom.
A graduate of renowned York University in Toronto, with a Major in Political Science and Mass Communications, Liz began her career at theCanadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) as a TV Reporter and News Anchor for CBC Newsworld National News.
Continually looking for new challenges and an eagerness to get out in the field and hone her skills from the ground up, Liz continued to advance through a variety of markets working as an Anchor and Reporter in several CTV Affiliate stations in Ontario Canada, taking on increasing responsibilities in an effort to build journalistic credibility. During this time she covered a plethora of stories ranging from taking a “cage” 20,000 feet underground to report on a Neutrino Research Lab, to dog sledding in the winter forest with Native Indians to better understand their culture.
Liz eventually moved to Miami in 1994. Her new position as the Nightbeat Reporter at South Florida’s number one TV Station and ABC AffiliateWPLG Miami, was a coveted energy charged high profile news position in South Florida.
While at WPLG, Liz reported on some of the nations top news stories, and covered in depth such stories as the 1997 murder of Fashion Designer Gianni Versace on South Beach and the manhunt and eventual discovery of Andrew Cunanan’s suicide in Miami Beach.
In addition Liz spent weeks in the South Florida steamy Everglades with rescue workers, covering the horrific 1996 crash of ValuJet flight 592 killing all aboard, and the Cuban Air force shooting down of two Miami based Cuban Exile planes in 1996.
While in Miami she also interviewed a wide range of infamous people like O.J Simpson and high profile entertainers like Madonna, Actor Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
In the late 1990′s Miami was an extremely active news market as the city grew rapidly and became home for hundreds of thousands of new immigrants from all over the world. The variety of News stories was astonishing in such a diverse community. Along with covering the news in a city with a large Hispanic population where Spanish is an asset, Liz was one of a few journalist who spoke French and could communicate with Miami Haitians who could not speak English.
As a fast paced and aggressive news market with rapidly breaking stories, Liz spent a great deal of time rushing to breaking news scenes using the stations helicopter “Sky 10″, an absolute necessity in Miami’s maze of congested highways.
In August of 1997 Liz accepted an offer from WGNO TV in New Orleans to become their main TV News Anchor and put a major thrust on news coverage. She was responsible for anchoring the 5pm, 6pm and 10pm News shows, and later the 9:00pm CW along with hosting her own segment Liz’s Lagniappe, and special investigative features, a heavy schedule that is rare in TV News.
Hurricane Katrina Impact
On August 28th 2005 as Hurricane Katrina headed for New Orleans, WGNO evacuated the majority of their on air and behind the scenes staff to WBRZ in Baton Rouge to prepare for the monster storm.
Liz chose to stay in the city to report on the Hurricane and checked into the Hyatt hotel in downtown New Orleans to prepare for the landfall of Katrina. Liz was on the ground near the Superdome in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina came ashore knocking out power in the city, and soon to experience the levee breach and waters rise.
As Katrina pulverized the city, Liz continued to provide live phone reportsto the ABC 26 News Team that evacuated to Baton Rouge and for other stations across the U.S. and around the world. Liz was able to transmit via cell phonesome of the first pictures of the destruction to the Superdome and downtown immediately after the storm.
For the next several days, Liz experienced the miserable conditions that hampered trapped citizens after the landfall of Katrina. Without running water, food, electricity or air conditioning in the 90 degree+ heat, and humid New Orleans weather, stranded people in the Hyatt and Superdome did the best they could to find the necessities of life while sleeping on floors trying to keep dry after the Hurricane blew out the hotel windows tearing up the rooms and hotel . (see slide show pictures of hotel)
Conditions in the Hyatt complex deteriorated rapidly in the darkness and flooded corridors. Liz later was able to gain entry to the shutdown WGNO studio which is part of the Hyatt complex, however it was heavily damaged. The TV studio had a backup generator which they were able to power up supplying minimal electricity. At the station the skeleton staff who stayed behind lived off of whatever food they could find. The station was severely damaged by large shards of glass from the window panes of adjacent high rise buildings, falling and penetrating the roof, allowing water to pour into the station.
After several days of sleeping on damp floors, she and the remaining Tribune staff were ordered to leave the city and travel to Baton Rouge due to safety concerns and assist in the coverage from WBRZ’s newsroom. However the flood waters had risen around the Hyatt and Superdome area and it was not possible to leave. The parent company Tribune made several attempts to retrieve the staff using a helicopter but weather conditions hampered the ability to land near the station.
Eventually the waters receded just enough, and with the assistance of the Sheriff’s department they were able to form a convey of SUV’s carrying the personnel and equipment and maneuver through the flood waters surrounding the Superdome. In the effort one vehicle was not quite high enough and began to float and stall. The 2 remaining vehicles rammed the flooded vehicle and was able to push it through the flood waters to eventual higher ground where it was abandoned. Finally after finding a safe and open route out of the city, Liz along with the other staff traveled to Baton Rouge where they got whatever rest they could by sleeping on the floors in offices and the auditorium of WBRZ TV. However, there was little time for rest, and Liz took to the Anchor Desk for 24 hour coverage and also traveled daily back into New Orleans on her off time to report on the aftermath of Katrina.
It was several months before the station would return to New Orleans and begin broadcasting from temporary facilities based out of trailers behind the damaged station in downtown New Orleans. For Liz personally she was finally able to make her way home once power was restored over a month later. While damage to her home was not excessive, a newly renovated condo she owned in Lakeview had been flooded with 9 feet of water as a result of the 17th street levy breach and was severely damaged to the point where it had to be fully “gutted”. Like so many people caught in the nightmarish aftermath of Katrina, it would not be until January 2010 before the damage to her condo was finally repaired by the Condo Association after a series of missteps.
Awards and Reporting
Along with anchoring the 4 main newscasts at WGNO, Liz specialized in Investigative reporting and won the First Place 2004 Press Club Best Investigative Piece for her “Parking Ticket Pay-up” story that uncovered more than 60 million dollars owed to the city in unpaid Parking Ticket fees.
In 2004 Liz was also the only New Orleans Journalist to fly into the eye of Hurricane Charley before it made landfall in Florida and again in 2008 Liz flew into the eye of Hurricane Ike with the Hurricane Hunters just hours before it made landfall at Galveston, Texas.
On Board the Hurricane Hunter Heading to the Eye 2004In 2007 the LouisianaA-P Awards also recognized her with the state’s Third Place Best Investigative Award and Honorable Mention for Investigative Reporting for her story on the first of her stories on the “Jump Out Boys”.
In 2007, the Louisiana Associated Press awarded her Second place for “In-Depth” series for her stories “Jump-Out Boys” on an undercover elite New Orleans Police Unit and the challenges it faces Post- Katrina.
That same year — 2007 the 10pm Newscast she anchors won the Louisiana Associated Press “Best Newscast” in the state award.
Since 1997, she’s anchored the station’s coverage of every major local news event affecting the metro area including the conviction of former governor Edwin Edwards, the arrest and convictions of Serial Killer Derrick Todd Lee, the Emmy Winning Sugar Bowl Countdown Coverage and the 24 hour a day coverage 7 days a week of Hurricane Katrina at their backup facility in the aftermath of the hurricane.
Liz also traveled to Washington D.C to cover New Orleanians fighting for more federal dollars to rebuild the Katrina damaged New Orleans area. She has also been quoted and mentioned numerous times in local publications for her in depth and probing interviews with former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin during his second term.
In 2009 Liz was one of the fortunate few people to ever take a ride in an F15 Eagle Jet, something that she says she “will never forget” and was an “invaluable experience to better understanding our brave Military men and women of the Armed Forces”.
Liz is a member of the Investigative Reporters and Editors – IRE, aGraduate of the International Woman’s Media Foundation Leadership program, and a Graduate of the FBI Citizens Academy Program. Liz has served on several panels at national events, and was invited to speak at forums and universities across the United States on the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.
She serves as an Honorary Board member for the non-profit group Dress for Success , an Honorary Member of March of Dimes, and also serves as a Board Member on the non profit association Raintree in New Orleans, and gives her time freely to Support Children’s issues.
A big believer of Arts and Culture, Liz is a member of the New Orleans Opera Woman’s Guild, and a Sustaining Member for the New Orleans Museum of Art.
Liz also participates in the “Principal for the Day” program and recently was a “Principal for the Day” at Audubon Charter School.
As an advocate for the Arts, Liz recently worked with a New York actress friend to help find a deserving home for a brand new Baby Grand Piano. The newly donated Grand Piano which was valued at over $25,000 made its debut on stage at Le Petit Theatre in the French Quarter April of 2010. The Piano was used until the end of the season and is now being used in other musical programs in Louisiana.
She regularly speaks at local elementary schools, colleges and universities encouraging students to stay in school, get good grades and reinforces the abundance of opportunities this great country has to offer.
In August of 2009 Liz left WGNO and now runsher Media Company LizReyes.com and Consulting Company G.M.A Corporation, where she has been involved in several Productions and Documentaries, and has worked withCSPAN at the Deepwater Horizon Hearings. In late 2009 she beganFreelancing for Fox 8 TV in New Orleans, covering the Gulf Oil Disaster and other stories.
Liz also freelances for RCN National News in Latin America where she hasAnchored and Reported in Bogota Colombia.
Recently she covered the Colombian Presidential Elections where she interviewed the leading candidate who that night became the new Colombian President. She also spent time covering cultural activities and news events around Bogota.
In May of 2011 Liz was back on the Anchor desk to host a new Fox 8 Newscast in New Orleans where you can see her daily from 12:00 noon until 1:00pm.