Media Coverage of Dennis

Mike Johnson

This topic usually pops up after a hurricane, so here goes:

What did everyone think about the live TV coverage? Good, bad, overdone, dangerous, etc.

DISCLAIMER: Here in SoCal the channels are a little different.

Now, everybody in the country has CNN and TWC, so I will start with that. CNN had wonderful coverage. They had the best radar images and great footage (I don't care what you think, Anderson Cooper and John Zarrela (sp.?) had a reason to scream when that Ramada sign fell, at 100 mph, even a small piece of metal can kill). CNN's reporters had great signal, I saw rare times when the signal would be down. TWC was also pretty good, but I didn't watch much of it.

The rest of the networks sucked. MSNBC - the day right before the hurricane made landfall - had a full 6 hours in the evening that they were talking about the London Bombings!!! :evil: CNN never stopped their coverage after Saturday morning. Still, Dennis was hardly news even two days before, when it was lashing Cuba with 150 mph winds!!! (they were focusing on the "London Terror", but I can understand that is more important than a possible hurricane that has the capability of killing hundreds in the country just south of them - maybe that's because the country just south is Communist, huh---) All the major news networks (FOX, WB, etc.) in San Diego had 10 minutes coverage TOPS during both days. And, during landfall, the only channels I knew of who had round-the-clock coverage of Dennis were MSNBC, TWC, and CNN.

Okay, enough lashing. After all, in San Diego, hurricanes just aren't big news anymore (they really were never; San Diegans are just too spoiled weatherwise)!
I though the coverage was overdone and funny at times with "reporters" talking about how fierce the wind was when you could tell it was only 40mph. Thats a nice breeze here in the Texas panhandle. MSNBC was the worst at tring to overplay the storm but all 24 hr channels did it. I did most of my watching online watching local coverage via webcasts. They at least seem to understand the actual impacts better even though a few of their on air Mets need some refresher courses.

Nowadays its not just covering the storm its who can get the wildest shot with the strongest winds. So sending these reporters out into the teeth of a major hurricane is standard practice even though most of them dont know a thing about weather. Sooner or later one will be hurt or killed out there standing in the storm surge on the coast (real smart)

As for Cuba not being covered. it is hard to cover it when Castro wont allow information from there.We have no idea how many people were actually killed or injured. Hell he wouldnt even let our hurricane hunter aircraft to fly over Cuba and get data so screw them. Hope there is nothing left for him to rule. Dont ask us for aid. Hope Emily smacks ya in the mouth even worse. Besides terror attacks on one of our biggest allies plus the chance that Americans were hurt is much bigger news than some pathertic communist island being hit with another hurricane as it is every year. its like supercells in Oklahoma. it happens every year.
CNN hurricane coverage was not bad,Since i started purchasing hurricane
vidio in the off season i enjoy it much more.instead of hearing some
reporter scream,i would sooner try and make out the diferant wind sounds
in the hurricane.
I was hoping Jon Stewert of The Daily Show would volunteer for duty....or at least the kids from South Park. :)
I guess in terms of weather knowledge, TWC would have to be the highest ranking - just simply because they have a lot of meteorologists on staff working to produce the shows. Even all of their graphics designers have meteorology degrees. However, I guess depending on personal preference, how the information is present can be argued for all the other major networks.

And Jay is right, it would be disasterous once one of the news reporters are killed in a hurricane. It is bound to happen one day. Watching Anderson Cooper stand next to the water and not really know what he was talking about brought that same thought to my mind. All the major news networks don't have enough meteorologists on staff to be able to afford coverage of a hurricane like that, so they're taking a giant risk to get the ratings. I remember CNN had the subtitle "Pensacola is apparently in the eye....winds calming..." Anderson Cooper was looking at the sky and waiting for the other side of the storm to come. What they didn't know was that the storm opened up on the south side and already passed them.
The question is, how much did the media jump on this storm compared to a Ivan or Charley. Indeed, the storm was not as bad as originally predicted, but these things are hard to predict.

The media in general did a fairly good job of covering the storm. I didn't hear as much as TAMPA TAMPA TAMPA as I did with Charley
My wife and I discussed this issue during the coverage: What if one of these hurricanes goes crazy right before landfall and becomes a Cat. 5 with a 20 ft. storm surge and winds of 160 plus. I don't think they are prepared to handle that situation. They seem to have trouble with 70 MPH gusts, so I doubt they have any idea of what a really powerful storm could produce. For example, they seem to be fixated with flying debris. Even the smallest sign falling down is of great interest. What if the debris are flying at over 150 MPH? I hope this never happens but I'll bet a few of them are taken out when the big one hits.

... or if the circulation spawns a rain-wrapped embedded tornado. No advance warning of that -- none.

Then we get great live shots of what a hurricane spawned tornado looks like inside the raincore and what it does to the human body (ie reporter)!!!
Hurricanes: embedded rain bands, embedded supercells, and embedded reporters!

I got a bit of a laugh out of John Zarella and Anderson Cooper getting lashed by the winds. I know that they're in a potentially dangerous situation and that's no laughing matter, but you'd have Anderson Cooper talking to the camera and in the background is John Zarella stuggling to hold up an anemometer and constantly changing his position presumably to try and get a better wind reading?

Hopefully the media will have better sense the day a Cat 5 roars ashore.
There are some reporters who purposely stand in between buildings to get the higher wind speeds uping the drama part of it a bit. That is something that they shouldn't do. That tends to scare the viewers more than they need to be when the most important thing during a storm like this is to remain calm
They want to scare them... it means ratings which is what its all about.. the higher the ratings the more $$ can be charged for advertising. The big story and maming seem like a bigger deal than it really is is what gets people to watch.

I agree they use the building windtunnel effect to overplay the wind. cant wait for some big piece of metal to come sweeping through and taking them out like that reporter in L.A in "DayAfter Tomorrow". it will happen just a matter of time. Maybe it will be Heraldo!!! :wink:
Unfortunately, that is probably going to happen one day and will scare the public even more so. Sickening.

Ratings, Ratings, Ratings. Thought we was supposed to be helping the people out instead of making things worse
The Ramada sign coming down was good stuff - but I was surprised that few of the reporters/photogs saw it coming and were prepared for it. The thing was spinning and rocking, obviously about to go, and they were standing directly downwind of it, right in the debris trajectory. Most of them panned over to get shots of the trees instead. I only saw one photog who was in a safe spot, held the shot and got the whole thing.
That would be scary. I would probably be saying about 10 prayers and changing my shorts 10 times after seeing that happen so close!!