Need-to-know basis

Published 8:37 pm Tuesday, August 5, 2008

One of the most unusual things I ever see on TV is when news stations and The Weather Channel try to cover hurricanes and tropical storms. In a deserted city that has been evacuated because the weather is going to be too rough for people to remain there, you see these news stations trying to show they are there covering the news event. About the only people in these abandoned towns are emergency workers and the news media.

I mean, is it really necessary for the reporters to stand outside in the rain and high winds just to prove they are on the scene? It seems unnecessary to me. You could put the same reporter against a window of a hotel in a much safer environment instead of letting the reporters try to stand up in 120 mph winds.

I guess the real reason for that is because the news business at its root is still entertainment. You can’t tell me that you don’t laugh at the news reporter standing outside holding the microphone in the middle of a hurricane. I know I do.

However, if your TV station doesn’t have that person trying to cover the hurricane, you probably wouldn’t watch them – at least when it came to weather coverage. When I watch severe weather coverage here at home, I watch a certain weatherman because his station broadcast a tornado in Tuscaloosa live on TV back in 2000. Now when we go under a warning, I turn right to his station before I go to another channel.

Everybody wants to see what’s going on without being there. That’s the same reason why people will buy newspapers to see pictures of a wreck, house fire or some other kind of spot news story because we all want to feel like we’re in the middle of it all.

No one wants to be the last person to hear about something, and that same rule applies to the news business especially during something like a hurricane or some other kind of major news story.

I might like to ride out a minimal hurricane, but when a Category 3 storm or above is bearing down on a location, it’s time to go.