Me thinks the media doth protest too much

There’s nothing like a good old snowstorm to whip the media into a heightened state of frenzy. Each local channel seems bent on outdoing the other with “live team coverage” from Route 17 in Ramsey, the Saw Mill Parkway in Westchester County or Jericho Turnpike on Long Island.

In each instance, we see the intrepid reporters bravely battling the elements to let us know that, yes indeed, it is snowing. And, yes indeed, it’s probably a good idea to stay inside and ride out the storm. They use words and phrases like “the blizzard of ’06,” and “it’s bearing down on us like an out-of-control freight train” and “we should all just hunker down and ride it out as best we can” to heighten the gravitas of the moment. At the same time, the daring field correspondents seek out local residents and sanitation roadcrews in every area and seem genuinely depressed when the interviewees say things like, “It’s really not that bad,” or “I’m able to get around pretty easily.”

When the wind-and snow-whipped reporters turn things over to their peers inside the warm studios, the latter make sure to express their concern and admiration for their daring counterparts braving the raging snowstorm.

What must “real” journalists covering “real” crises like the war in Iraq, mass genocide in Africa and the ever-more scary bird flu think of these local yokels?

It’s one thing to accurately and responsibly report weather as a news story and then move on to other, more pressing matters of the day. It’s quite another to “blanket” the airwaves with 24×7 hype and hyperbole aimed at heightening ratings and scaring the bejesus out of viewers. One wonders how these same local “journalists” will respond if, and when, a truly calamitous event besets the tri-state area? Back to you in the studio, Maurice..

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