There’s a TV news oriented daily newsletter called ShopTalk which is published at the TVSPY.com website. It’s been around forever… even before there was an Internet. It’s the place to vent, if you want to be read by most everyone. And, today it was my turn to vent!
I have watched today in stunned disbelief as Hurricane Isabel has turned TV news into some sort of weird reality show.
It’s been live shot after live shot, featuring soggy, windblown reporters in harm’s way. Since 1961, when local TV reporter Dan Rather found his way to CBS based on his performance in Hurricane Carla, hurricane coverage has been looked upon as the perfect inclusion in an audition tape. Over the past few years, with increasingly good live capabilities, we’ve just gone nuts.
Gritty hurricane coverage means more eyeballs watching. It is compelling television. No one will deny that. But, hold on. What the hell are we doing and showing our viewers?
Even with the moderate (for a hurricane) wind that Isabel is now producing, projectiles of all types become airborne. How long will it be before we see a reporter or photographer killed or injured live? And, how can we report on evacuation orders when the example we show on the air is of us disregarding them. We are promoting disrespect for public safety.
Some folks covering the storm might say, “I have experience and know what to do.” This is somewhat like dodging a few bullets and then declaring yourself bulletproof.
The sad truth is, at this moment, this story is being covered by people who have gone beyond any margin of safety, where one unforeseen circumstance could mean a life. Maybe they don’t know that even solidly built concrete structures, like the Richelieu Apartments in Pass Christian, MS, can be wiped clean to the foundation by a hurricane.
Is this worth it?
One last thing… After looking this posting over, I found one misspelled word “airborne” and one improperly punctuated word “harm’s.” How embarrassing.