Sunday, August 28, 2005

Hurricanes and the Media

Why Hurricanes are such media events

Reporting careers are made with good hurricane reporting.  Ratings grow as Hurricanes roll.  And the media can’t help but convert to wall-to-wall coverage every time one starts to develop in our hemisphere.  Why?

Try to think of any other disaster that gives you two or three days notice.  Wouldn’t the press be camped out, if they knew when the next earthquake or tornado was going to strike.  For that matter, if they had a heads up on a plane crash wouldn’t they be at the airport waiting?  (Actually, some media were on hand for a crash in Sioux City Iowa in 1989, after hearing about an aircraft in trouble)

A hurricane is unique in the world of disasters.  There are warnings.  There is a time line, and there is every opportunity for the media to send a brigade of reporters into the strike zone.  And there they wait for the opportunity to stand in gusting winds and driving rain to tell us – don’t do this at home.

We literally have news reporters, and anchors, like Fox’s Shepard Smith going New Orleans where they admonish all to leave the city before the next great disaster of this century.  It just seems odd that they are the ones checking into their hotels, as they tell everyone else to leave.

Who am I to grouse?  I was once a reporter.  And YES, given the chance, I’d be doing the same.

As it stands, the nation will watch as New Orleans, Biloxi and the rest of the central gulf coast is hammered by one of nature’s most relentless disasters.  And it will be great TV for those of us who don’t live there.