Hyping up the storm
Yup, we survived another one. Only this one did an excellent job in sparing us. Yes there were probably some downed trees and power outages, but let’s dial it back a little more than a year ago and all agree that it could have been a ton worse. Yes, the current weather pattern will be in place for the next few days in the form of rain as we send our storm to our Canadian neighbors. We should, however, be keeping in our thoughts those that weren’t spared by Sandy and wish them a speedy recovery.
That being said, if I could pop off for a minute about the "storm hype." For the record I’m a member of the media, I of course have this column and I also inform the public via my daily radio show on WKVT. I feel that small markets like the one we’re in do a very good job of informing the public, reminding them of certain things and getting the experts on to cover the "stuff." But as I sat home last night I flicked on the mind-killing device in the corner of my living room to see what was happening in New Jersey and New York. What I witnessed was a whole lot of crazy!
There’s a point where information gets blurred into overstated grandstanding to hold viewers. Being on the programming side of the business I understand holding the viewer and not losing them, but doesn’t it do harm? Speaking on my own behalf I’m gonna say yes. It starts to bleed into your psyche and actually stir up feelings of panic. I’ll have to admit, while I watched Jim Cantore from the Weather Channel run around like a chicken with his head cut off or Anderson Cooper wading around waist deep water I could really feel the doom and gloom. But then it occurred to me, would I have been this panicked in 1972 when Elmira was headed towards us? Well the answer is no. Of course, I was only seven years old so that had a little something to do with it. Or what about the blizzard of 1978? Yes, we had a ton of coverage (for those days) for that storm but not the panic-inducing stuff we have to endure now just to get vital information.
People do need to be informed, and they need to be reminded of things over and over again. We’ve become way too dependent on the information stream reminding us of things we should already know. That being said, after about two hours of the same over-sensualization of a serious occurrence it starts to have the opposite effect. Too much storm coverage desensitizes us to future events and can even do it during an event. For instance, for us here in the tri-state region we escaped it, so all the "hype" shoots future credibility somewhat in the foot. It shouldn’t, but it does. I can hear it now, another storm will get forecasted and everybody starts with the onslaughts of "whatever," "yeah, just like Sandy?" and so on. I will offer this up, where I don’t agree with the bludgeoning of our senses with storm coverage I will say that it shouldn’t be completely ignored. You should always be ready with the basics - food, water and batteries. Because even though we escaped a majority of Sandy’s wrath there are many who did not and we need to be thankful for that.
Last year at this time we were digging out from Irene; some of us are still digging out. So hopefully we know the difference between hype and what’s real. I for one wouldn’t mind it if it got toned down a little, maybe to a level that stayed informative without bordering on ridiculous. After a while of seeing the same thing over and over I tuned out and frankly I could have missed something. We’re heading into winter; we need to pay attention. We don’t, however, need to be beaten over the head with it. What the hell is up with that?
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