Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Mired in Meterological Media

The rain fell from every direction as residents of the Gulf Coast made their final preparations for the impending storm. People tied down outdoor furniture and installed hurricane shutters over their windows expecting the worst as was reported by many members of the meteorological community. November is technically still within the hurricane season but storms are uncommon and unexpected during this time. Overly cautious families gathered together in their homes and public shelters waiting for the late season doom that was surely lurking out in the gulf.

It is amazing to me how so much of the media over sensationalizes things to improve ratings under the guise of public awareness and safety. Al Roker, The Today Show's Sam Champion and The Weather Channel's Jim Cantore among others all came to Pensacola to report on the potentially catastrophic tropical storm.

Winds were moderate, at best. To give the reader an idea; my wife trimmed some palm fronds from a couple of bushes in our front yard a few days ago and piled them in our fire pit in the back yard. After Ida made her way through, they were still stacked just as neatly as they had been before. Sure, there is flooding in some areas as a result of the rain and tide surge but it is minimal.

The media has a penchant for creating a buzz over the mildest of incident while often overlooking the more serious events. Producers of some news and weather shows send their reporters to wherever news may happen in hopes of seeing the train wreck as it is occurring. I don't hold the reporters at fault. They are merely doing what is requested of them by those in charge. The morning after the "storm" family members from across the country were calling their loved ones on the Gulf Coast to see how they weathered the weather only to find that there was nothing significant to report.

Where are Roker, Cantore and Champion when families are displaced because of tornadoes or when rivers rise above flood level? A few months ago in Milton, a town near Pensacola, several city blocks of historic buildings and offices were destroyed by fire. Where was the media then? Please don't take my point incorrectly here. I'm not suggesting that they should have been here. Not at all. What I am suggesting is that it is not necessary for them to be here now, reporting on a tropical storm that would be more accurately described as a quiet evening of wind and rain.

Is it better spend the time and resources to be first on the scene where a storm may happen or to be the first to arrive after a disaster to report on what has actually happened; unembarrassed and timely? Perhaps we should reconsider our sources for weather info? Find an organization that is more concerned with providing information than having a camera on the scene. Think to yourselves; who are the members of the meteorological community who reported the situation without causing a scare? I can think of a few. Maybe we should listen to them next time.

The rain fell as a mist Tuesday morning as residents of the Gulf Coast removed their hurricane shutters; chagrined that they had heeded the warnings of an overzealous media.

1 comment:

  1. Great commentary. Glad it wasn't as bad as they predicted it would be. Good to hear that you and your family are safe. Take care, have a great day.