Rain, Rain, Go Away. And Take the News Folks with You

I have been thinking about John Bolaris in the last day or two as I watch nonstop coverage of Hurricane Katrina. Who’s John Bolaris, you might ask?  He’s the unfortunate Philadelphia Bolaris_2 weatherman who received hate mail and even death threats in March 2001 after his dire predictions of a devastating blizzard turned out to be massively overstated.

Well, you could attribute that to Philadelphians taking their weather as seriously as their sports, but the precedent is notable.  On the Gulf Coast today, it’s the meteorological equivalent of impending Armageddon, if the cable news networks are to be believed.  They sicken me with their 24/7 coverage of misery and mayhem.  Yes, it’s a big story; a major American city, and one of its most culturally significant, may be devastated.  Yes, the media have an obligation to let people know about loved ones in the area.  Still, they go so over the top and whip up such fear that they neglect a key element of their mission, which is to report the news.  In so doing, they should help people to understand it.  They are not, in this instance.  Not only do they relegate themselves to play-by-play announcers as they focus on the storm track, but they miss a key part of the story: that this hurricane might damage or destroy the oil refineries in the area, hastening the rising price of gas. The implications for the economy are ominous.

It is hard to trust the media, and the broadcast media in particular, on this one.  They have made so many mistakes in hyping past "storms of the century," and have managed to evade responsibility when nothing occurs, that the trust keeps eroding.

No matter what happens, today we are all John Bolaris.

2 thoughts on “Rain, Rain, Go Away. And Take the News Folks with You

  1. RepMan- great point! As I watched the coverage even BEFORE Katrina hit, you would have believed that several states would have been washed away. Yes, there is catstrophic damage, and a severe loss of life, but they had you believing that New orleans would not even be a city anymore. But fear not, in a few days, they will be back to coverage of Natalee Holloway…maybe its time for some PR firms to pitch them some good stories..maybe Madge or Imojo?

  2. Right-on Repman. Bush said he’s considering loaning crude oil from the government’s emergency stockpile, if requested by U.S. refiners facing delayed shipments due to Hurricane Katrina. The stockpile includes more than 700 million barrels of crude oil stored in underground salt caverns in Louisiana and Texas. Time to crack the safe Georgie.