Junk journalism

So we have a big snowstorm coming through the Northeast right now and TV can talk about nothing else. I’m sorry, but it doesn’t take a journalism degree to do this. Anyone could do this. Let me hook up my laptop camera and I’ll go outside and step in the drift and observe how deep it is and I’ll capture those late-breaking images of plows and I’ll advise you not to go out unless you have to…. over and over and over again. And I might even do it gramatically. I just heard a highly paid TV correspondent saying it was getting “more wet and more icy.” And more stupid.

  • Or they say “is a storm coming? Tune in at 11.”

    Yeah, right. I’ll be on pins and needles till you tell me I can know what the weather forecast is.

  • You should see how over the top they get in areas like here in Atlanta, where there normally isn’t any weather. When a shower, thunder-bumper, or snow flurry comes through, you’d think they were reporting War Of The Worlds. I once wrote a spoof about it, with your permission:

    “Barb, preliminary geostationary sat-intel reports that the cold front is approaching a target-rich environment in the upper suburban perimeter. Have we received any word on the deployment of the electric line crews and snow plows? And how about the civilian population?”

    “Tom, convoys of road clearance vehicles were reported near the area an hour ago, our time. We already have confirmed reports with senior Georgia Power officials that it is indeed cold and wet out here. We are receiving reports of isolated incidents of food-hoarding moms and cell-phoning dads hydroplaning the family Navigator. We stress that such freeze-related occurrences are rare, so far, but there could be more later. We know they have the capability.”

  • rcjordan

    We’re only a few weeks away from the hurricane-hype season (which starts months before tha actual season). Now, while I’ll be the first to admit that hurricanes are lethal and forewarning of possible landfall is more than helpful, the constant firing of distress signals by the media tends to dull our fears.

  • Mumblix Grumph

    Aw hell…just go to the Earthcam webpage and watch the Times Square Cam. All the snow, none of the smarm.

  • rcjordan:

    the constant firing of distress signals by the media tends to dull our fears.

    That no doubt added to Katrina’s toll.

  • Since local news stations no longer have any real reporters on the staff anymore, a weather story is a blessing for them. It gives them a chance to fill up the time without having to do any real work.

    On normal days they send their “reporters” to interview the victims of fires and car crashes. That seems like junk journalism to me as well. What was the last story of political corruption or illegal business dealings that was uncovered by your local TV station? When they do report this type of news it is because of a press conferece by the local state or federal district attorney. If NYC didn’t have Elliot Spitzer feeding them news stories they would be up a creek.

  • zippy

    Junk news? With a big ominus bell tone and then a story about a missing bride, or is it a missing child, or maybe even a missing college student, my god could you possibly imagine these things really happen? Well if you are saying so what, so is every one else with any grey matter left in their head, after Lacy, Chandra, Natalie, The drunk guy on the cruise ship, how many insignificant stories do we need? how do these stories affect the average persons life? if your answer is not at all, congratulations you are correct. But the 24 hour blabber mouths have to have something to yak about and missing persons seems to be there latest soup de jour, with judges who make bad desicions( in their opinion) a close second. Now if you want real news how about our vice president shooting a guy from the NRA while quail hunting, maybe a covey of quail flushed and the prince of darkness saw birds flying all, with plump little bodies and the head of scooter libby, they were saying, cheney did it, cheney did it as the flew away. Well you could imagine the rage in the VPs mind, ill get that son of a bitch, go f*** yourself screamed an enraged cheney, next thing you know a loud boom is heard and down goes mr. NRA like a cruise missle down a ventilation shaft. perhaps we should question mr. cheneys judgement? not if your smart you wont, or if you have a telephone or a computer you had better just mind your Ps and Qs or the prince of darkness will descend upon youlike an oil slick.

  • Angelos

    But hey, they delayed the reports of Cheney shooting someone 24 hours. They’ve got priorities…

  • Jen

    Here’s the reason we are subjected to idiotic weather coverage – namely, corporate broadcasting has absolutely no requirement to serve the public good anymore.

    Thanks to the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which deregulated the industry, radio and TV stations no longer have to produce piles of documents showing how they are serving the community. They have only one master now: ratings. And the ratings show that weather is the number one audience draw.

    Also, with deregulation came consolidation, and therefore smaller (and often less experienced, lower paid) news staffs who have neither the time nor the skill to do investigative news pieces. Weather stories are easy to do, and have a guaranteed audience.

    As long as the FCC doesn’t care, the corporate media bosses certainly aren’t going to care. They draw just as many listeners/viewers and make just as much money by showing a “reporter” standing in the snow.

    I’ve worked as a news broadcaster and every time it snowed, our “team coverage” went into action with the same old snowstorm live shots. Until the audience wants something different, it’s not going to change.

  • This is what old people in the northeast do.

    1) Breathlessly consume all of the local media storm hype.

    2) Run out and get milk, bread, and eggs.

    3) Watch the news coverage all day as if they have never seen snow before.

    4) Eat French toast all week.

  • Old Grouch

    “…piles of documents showing how they are serving the community…”

    Ah yes, good old “acertainment:” Contact all the local loudmouth pressure groups to be sure you have their “views” of “topics of community importance” on record (make them feel important and CYA at the same time). Match those topics against your 6am Sunday local talking heads show and your 2am “public service” announcements. Finally, write it all out, then tie it up in a nice package to go in the Public File. Repeat yearly.

    Lots of paper, but not much impact on coverage. The stations that were going to do a good job would do so anyway, the ones that couldn’t be bothered always found ways to skate by.

    But you did get amusing filings such as the explanation of how the local acid-rock station was covering the problems of senior citizens.

  • Catherine

    Oh my god, Jeff, I could not agree with you more. Up here in Boston, you’d think we’d be used to a little snow by now. But no. Regular programming was pre-empted by stupid storm coverage ALL DAY yesterday. Honestly, how is there possibly endless hours of “breaking news” on this storm? They said the same five things over and over: 1) here’s the trajectory of the storm, 2) here are the snow totals, 3) roads will be slippery, 4) here’s the criteria for a blizzard, and 5) here’s what’s closed today (it’s SUNDAY for f’s sake!). This stupid storm coverage pre-empted the only real news the networks put out every week–the Sunday morning talk shows. So frustrating.

  • Actually, Jeff, if you’re the one reporting the weather, I might even watch!

  • TomCS

    But there can be outstanding web coverage of local weather events, although I do not know whether your roofcam is up to it. You New Englanders will be hard put to compete with hurricanecity.com out of Delray Beach (I think) which broadcast through the eye of Wilma until its power supply died, and did a better job of predicting its path and impact than NOAA.