Today's guest post is by Peppercommer Deb Brown.
This blog is, in some ways, a follow-up to Repman Steve Cody’s blog from August 25th. In that blog, Steve talked about how the media really hyped the earthquake we felt here in NYC. Although the quake’s epicenter was in Virginia, you would have thought it had to be in midtown Manhattan by the way the media were reporting.
Now fast-forward to the news yesterday morning, in which the debate discussed was “Did the experts and media over-hype Irene?” This blog from Washington Post blogger Jason Samenow captures both sides of the story.
Some will argue that the news media truly over-hyped the approaching storm, especially here in the NYC area whereas others along the East Coast will disagree. I believe a lot of the sentiment depends on where you’re standing (hopefully on dry ground). My husband and I were evacuated during the storm since we live on the East River. Manhattan pretty much got by without a scratch. New York Harbor overflowed a bit, but otherwise windows stayed intact, electricity and cable stayed on, and for the most part, we were all fine. But, it could have been much worse. And, one point that was mentioned on the Today Show Monday morning was that while it’s easier today for meteorologists to accurately predict the path of a storm, the intensity is not always as accurate.
Were my husband and I inconvenienced? Of course. Am I complaining? No. I’d much rather have the experts and elected officials tell us to get out of the path and find out it wasn’t as bad than to have the opposite happen. I think much of the hype, so to speak, was because they were trying to tell us how deadly a Category 1 or even a Tropical Storm could be. By the time Irene reached Connecticut and Vermont, it was a Tropical Storm. Yet, by Monday morning, half the state of Connecticut was without power and Vermont suffered some significant damage.
Jason Samenow has a poll on his blog and the majority, to date, believes the storm was hyped. It wasn’t that long ago when we, as a country, condemned the city of New Orleans, the state of Louisiana, and the Federal government, including “Brownie,” for not doing a good enough job getting people out of the way in time.
I think we’ve learned our lesson. And, I would much rather have our local officials err on the side of caution. The media had a different role to play in this scenario versus the earthquake. The earthquake hit and was barely felt in most parts of the City. Yet, they definitely hyped it after it happened. No one knows how Mother Nature will ultimately react. And, the media, in conjunction with our elected officials, did the right thing in warning of the approaching storm’s potential fury and trying to scare people enough so they would move. The problem with the media’s image is that if something minor is talked about in the same breath as something major, people become skeptical and think of the boy who cried wolf.
I think New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said it best and was the most direct when he saw that people were still on the beach in Asbury Park Friday afternoon: “Get the hell off the beaches.”