Snow is Like Crack Cocaine for Newscasters

Monday's "mega storm" or "East Coast Event" as the media are billing it has made a lot of newscasters very, very happy.

Newscasters live for big snow storms. They're like little kids in a candy store. You can sense their excitement as they talk about high wind gusts, treacherous road conditions and school closings.

And, they just adore total team coverage. I was just watching the local Fox affiliate correspondent reporting "live" from Rego Park, Queens. Gee whiz. Live from Rego Park, Queens? Wow. Anyway, she was bundled up like an Eskimo, scrunched over like an elderly woman with osteoporosis and screaming triumphantly, "Just look at that wind whipping the awning of the bodega behind me! This is pure white out stuff, Curt!"

The media love to end every weather report with the same daunting admonition, "If you must travel today, please be sure and take mass transit. But if you don't have to travel, by all means stay safe at home!"

The collective media overkill  makes me wonder what these intrepid "journalists" would do with a real Rocky Mountain-type blizzard that dumped, say, four or five feet on New York? They'd probably go on a 72-hour, non-stop media bender. You'd see beaten and beleaguered field reporters standing on snowy street corners hour after hour. I can just imagine an "anchor" sitting inside a warm studio, directing his freezing and exhausted cohorts to pack it in. "Amy, you've done enough. Go home and get some warm soup inside you!" But, being the formidable frontline correspondent that she is, Amy would bravely refuse. "No Curt. My job is to be here at exit 124 on the Long Island Expressway, letting our viewers know just how bad it is. Remember everyone, if you must travel, for god's sake, take mass transit! As for me, I'm staying here, Curt, right up until the bitter end."

Newscasters use a combination of frenzied excitement and somber gravitas to make it seem as if they're covering a fire fight on the Gaza Strip instead of a 6 to 10 inch snowstorm. They're not happy unless they've succeeded in shutting down every school, emptying the shelves of every Acme in the tri-state and interviewing every last stranded passenger at LaGuardia.

Yes, for the media, a snowstorm is the most wonderful time of the year.

9 thoughts on “Snow is Like Crack Cocaine for Newscasters

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  2. Speaking of blowing a weather prediction…the other night Katie Couric was on Letterman and was joking about the classic weatherman missing a prediction…the story went like this…Weatherman Ed had predicted a major snow storm…and of course the storm didn’t happen…the next night the cute perky anchor (maybe this was a young Katie) asks Ed…Ed what happened to the 8 to 10 inches you promised me last night…LOL

  3. You’re absolutely right, Ted. But, how come there’s no penalty when the media totally blows a weather prediction? I remember an old Lewis Black routine in which he talked about a weather forecaster blowing a two-foot snowfall prediction. Black said if his roofer had missed by two feet, he’d be hauled into jail.

  4. This is all about ratings. Weather is the top ratings earner in any local news program, which is why they spend so much time on it. And studies show that viewers are most likely to change their allegiance to a competitive local news channel if they feel the coverage of a major weather event or crisis is not sufficient. This places even more pressure on news producers to flood the zone when a major storm hits.

  5. Oh, artistic license, Linda. Artistic license. In all seriousness, it was indeed the 1978 blizzard, and from all I hear, it was one that lived up to the hyperbole. I’m just impressed that they’re still milking it for as much weather scare value as they can.

  6. The weather folks here in Arizona ESPECIALLY love to post video clips of the terrible storms back east. But that doesn’t mean we Arizonans are laughing at your expense – most of us moved here from snowy states, so we feel your pain.
    And Sam, I think it was the Blizzard of ’78, not ’76 – and that was a doozy.

  7. In the South, a half-inch of wet snow is sufficient to shut down the schools, trigger the media frenzy, send every kid in town out to scrape together a two-foot-tall snow figure, and cause transplanted Midwesterns like me to wonder what the fuss is about. At least you have something resembling a real snowstorm to incite the hyperbole.

  8. In Boston, it was always, “This reminds me of that fateful blizzard of 76. I think, in all my years of covering the weather here in Boston, this is the first time conditions have come to so closely resemble that fateful day.” They even had primetime specials on the blizzard…Nothing like mythologizing the weather.