|"Heads up, it's raining! Critical update! |
What? No I don't want to go back to the county emergency
director in the studio. I've got a cool shot here!!!"
Yup, even with an estimated $10-20 billion of damage up and down the coast, it could have been worse. And sadly, a lot of people and companies were counting on it. Not least amongst them, the news and weather channels. Almost as bad and just as embarassing, a virtual "Player Haters' Ball" has emerged against "The Media" in the wake of a storm that just didn't kill enough people to live up to the the hype.
|**I** am the biggest hater!...|
of TWC's mind-numbing coverage of the storm!
Does this coverage drive public hysteria? Possibly. I think it's very difficult to say that one causes the other, because hysteria and media both feed each other in a wonderful, sick, little system (yay, ad revenue!). And of course, it's foolish to blindly state that "the coverage was ridiculous BECAUSE the storm ended up not being that bad." What if the damage had been worse? If thousands, not a dozen, had died? Perhaps the hype-haters would be satisfied. But I have to ask - in that case, what service would this crazy news coverage have provided, in a more deadly weather event?
And that's my problem. The 24-hour news cycle has allowed all of us to become totally complacent on receiving information, advice, and even instructions when anything is happening in our lives. From advice on your fantasy football draft, to weather forecasts that we all know we cannot depend upon, but yet we watch every day on TV or online.
|I could have stayed on the sidewalk and told you |
about the deep water in the street, but then we
totally wouldn't get this useful shot!!!
Out of all of that brain-freezing news coverage of the storm, we received almost no good information. When will the storm get bad? What types of damage, and to what extent, will different areas receive? When will the power come back on? Where are emergency stations for food, water, ice, and medicine set up? What's the best way to prepare a refrigerator or freezer for an inevitable power loss? How many batteries does a family truly need for a 3-day power outage? What are the odds of losing utilities like water and natural gas? When is the best time to evacuate?
Those are all very pertinent questions that, if answered, can help keep people alive - or at least, not rioting. Yet, the coverage was composed of almost total fluff and hours, then days, of "money shots." Single trees down on houses. A boat on the shoreline. A destroyed fishing pier (that gets destroyed once every five years). Whether this imagery is designed to create fear among viewers, I don't know. But it's a waste of everyone's time and money. Telling your viewers, "You should be prepared to lose power in the next three hours," while "hype," is infinitely more useful information than a video of a flying car.
This morning, I mentioned to a Hype Hater that our public water system could have failed (it's 150 years old, and provides drinking water for 1.5 million or so people) and got the response, "Well, it's never totally failed." Sorry, peeps. "Well, just hope for the best, and if it fails, I guess somebody will make it okay," is not an adequate counterpoint to the media hype.
The reality is this: the next time I see Jim Cantore posing like this, I wish he would be screaming into the microphone: "The Red Cross is set up OVER HERE at THIS INTERSECTION," and not "Look, a Kia wrapped around a tree. Look at this wind! Cool!"