Hurricane Live Shots – Enough Already

I spent a lazy day around the house this afternoon. For much of the day, Comcast decided I didn’t need cable access – thanks.

For part of the afternoon I buzzed around the cable news channels and TWC. I saw a variety of “harm’s way” live shots and I’ve had it. Enough already.

Whatever it is that defines the words ‘public service,’ this is the opposite.

Part of what broadcasters do (maybe we did more back when we pledged to serve the public interest, convenience and necessity) is inform viewers. In the case of an approaching major hurricane, we should be informing them about the coming storm and proper safety procedures.

Having these cowboys (and cowgirls) on from the scene sends exactly the opposite message.

As was shown with the Columbia shuttle disaster (and I suppose Einstein talked about this a little too), even an object with low mass can be trouble if moving at a sufficiently high rate of speed. What won’t hurt you if hurtling at 120+ mph?

Can rocks and pebbles fell you? Sure. Will a tree branch or aluminum sign sever a limb? Possibly. Can you get killed in a dozen ways or more? Absolutely.

Reporters stand outside, between buildings, claiming they’re in a protected area? Doesn’t anyone remember the Richelieu Apartments in Pass Christian, MS? Sturdy, concrete construction – leveled.

Actually, the reporters have the advantage. They’re using both eyes. The photographer is myopically staring through the camera lens… robbed of peripheral vision and depth perception.

This is very different than tornado chasing, where the periphery of the storm is much more well defined. In tornadoes, no one tries to get inside the funnel.

More than anything, this just sends the wrong message to the general public. And, of course, it emboldens news directors and assignment desks to send more people and equipment into the storm. Competition is, after all, competition. Who wants to be beaten on a story like this?

I don’t want Jim Cantore, Anderson Cooper, John Zarella, Rick Sanchez or their unseen cameramen and producers, to die. But someone is going to die – and for what?

That’s what’s going to put a stop to this. Someone will die or be terribly injured. I will take no solace knowing I told you so.

Bogger’s note: I write something similar to this every year. You can see it’s had no effect at all

2 thoughts on “Hurricane Live Shots – Enough Already”

  1. Hey Geoff. Totally agree with your assessment of Hurricane/disaster coverage. Watched Charlie Gibson call this “Somewhat of an art form” this morning on GMA. Thought that would raise your blood pressure a bit. I never really thought of this before, but you are right on. It makes my blood seethe also when the natianal media beats to death a story like Jon-Binet Ramsey (spelling?) or the Schiavo case or Scott Peterson. I think one of the problems with this country is the massive proliferation of instant world wide “news”. Enough already. I love the news, I watch it every day and read on the internet and newspapers, but please, stop beating stories like a dead horse.

  2. All I need is a live feed from Max Mayfield-

    Tragically, this race to the bottom will continue until a reporter, producer or photographer gets hurt or killed. It’s fun to these guys in Central Park during a blizzard- but the hurricane stuff is cringeworthy.

    What’s next? Covering shark attacks by sending reporters into the ocean for a swim with a little cut on their leg? Come on!

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