Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Stupid Hurricane Follies

Another hurricane has hit, Isaac this time, and we've endured the usual hurricane tradition: Reporters standing out in the worst of the storm, struggling to stay on their feet amid the wind and rain.
NBC's Al Roker and the Weather Channel's Jim Cantore
struggle with Hurricane Isaac in New Orleans. Live!
On the Air!!!

Why, oh why do they do that?   Yes, we know it's windy. It's a hurricane, for crissakes! Your cameras are showing us the swaying trees, the damaged buildings, the flooded streets.  Struggling to keep your nifty Eyewitness News rain slickers on as you yell unintelligbly into a rainsoaked, shorted out mike doesn't add anything to the report.

Except, that is,  for the comic relief when a reporter is tossed by the wind down the street like a discarded, crumbled up piece of paper or your $1 milllion TV news truck gets pushed by the flood into the refreshing waters of Lake Pontchartrain

We can't hear what you're saying. The wind is drowning out the sound, and your struggle to stand up in the gale isn't conducive to sharing information. What we hear is "Wind gurgle gurgle picked up, grumble gurlg oomph, ugh, warned to evacua...., oooh, ugh, huh, damage to gurgle ah! ungh tropical oooohhh."

Not exactly enlightening, is it?

Reporters struggling out in the wind during a hurricane have become a cliche. Can't you think of anything more creative to do when covering the storm?  I didn't go swimming in the raging Mad River in Vermont while reporting on Hurricane Irene last August. I just talked to victims to get their story. And nobody complained that I didn't float through somebody's ruined house to report the news.

Remember, it's not about the reporter. It's about the real people affected by storm. Do your job and stop showboating in the gale.

Look, I love weather porn as much as the next guy. Hell, I film it when I get a chance, from the dry confines of my truck or a building, thanks.  Us TV viewers expect and want to watch the sad videos of houses ripping apart in the wind, floodwaters washing through city streets and century old trees toppled into useless heaps.

But while you're showing us the destruction, calmly, out of the wind, please, tell us if anybody has been hurt, how bad the damage is, where the hurricane is going, how storm victims are getting aid, and how we can help.

While we're all enjoying the storm on TV,  why not commit some real journalism for a change?
Here's a video to prove my point:

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