Culture

HurRicane of bad coverage


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Reckless news coverage favored sensationalism over safety.

So living in New York as we all sat glued to our TVs, waiting for New York City to become Manhattan Bay, the real story wasn't being covered. After showing us simulations of hypothetical worst-case NYC scenarios, and reporters standing around outside in ponchos getting pummeled by strong winds and foamy waves, lost in the coverage was the safety information so many of us along the coastlines could have actually used.

I rarely heard mentions of what to actually do in a hurricane situation from our reporters, but instead saw them running around trying to get the most shocking footage they could. So many reporters being located in New York City, and so fascinated by the subway shutdown and the empty streets, seemed more intent on showing scenes of what was often minor flooding rather than the real situation as it unfolded. Mainstream media sites were outdated as Irene ravaged the coast, with hours behind, choosing more sensational sounding headlines than up-to-date ones that would actually inform the citizens in the afflicted areas.

At a certain point in the morning after several states had been devastated, we still only got the outdated New York City Doomsday coverage. This point, a lampoon of itself. Reporters still outside, just looking for anything remotely out of the ordinary as people casually strolled by, behind them. Searching, hoping for a fallen tree branch, or an out of place bench. A wave that caused a couple of feet of flooding downtown.

Ignoring the real devastation of the states across New England, the reporters continued to simply stand around New York, almost as if to hope something would happen. A strange, inaccurate, offensive, and possibly even dangerous style of reporting in my view. You had genuine tragedies across the country and instead of real facts we had to witness giddy giggling reporters excited about rain and big waves.

When you tell people not to go outside and then send someone outside to stand and yell about how awesome and amazing it is to witness the power of the gods; asking citizen journalists to submit videos of their own footage you're not doing anyone a service. "Dont go outside, but if you happen to be outside send us your insane hurricane footage."

We don't need to see wreckage. We don't benefit from it, and it doesn't help us minimize the loss of life. It certainly isn't relevant as we're trying to find safety. The hypocrisy of telling folks to stay in doors while showing a person outdoors laughing about strong headwinds is illogical. It only spurs the curiosity of those that would be tempted to see what all the fuss is about.

What I would have liked to have seen would have been more emphasis on safety information. I think overall the governments of the different states did what they could, at first I felt they overreacted, but now I think they acted to the best of their abilities. I think, you can always do a better job, but they took it seriously and indeed the threat was legit, most certainly for those that lost loved ones on that day. I think Chris Christie was a bit irritating, I recall seeing him wearing a Chris Christie, self-promotional sweater during one of his interviews, which lacks class. I think the "Get the Hell off the beach!" comment was a little silly, because anyone on the beach were probably not watching the news, but the media kept fawning over his bold style instead of once again reminding us of real safety info. But Christie's antics are typical political theatrics, I don't see that as a horrible crime, just my own little pet peeve.

The reporters, however failed us in a time of need. I think, in future situations we should call on our media to stop with the charade of clowns falling in the wind in their rain ponchos, but to provide real information of where the hurricane is and what to do to stay safe. Some of those deaths were gruesome. A woman in NJ driving in trapped in her car drowning while trying to contact 9/11. A boy killed by a tree crashing through his window. These kinds of facts, like not to drive in flooding water, to roll down your windows, or to keep children away from windows, especially with trees, these are the things we needed from our media. Instead we got comedian reporters bouncing around, and only after the fact trying to compensate with some responsible coverage, showing us the devastation, the death tolls, and what we can do to help. Next time, tell us what we can do to help ourselves BEFORE, and maybe some lives could be saved.

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Updated Apr 22, 2017 9:07 AM EDT | More details

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