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I’m so glad I work for a newspaper and not a TV station.
When we have a storm, I can go out and shoot pictures of the high water, showing the destruction that has been done by the flood waters or the wind.
If I worked for a TV station, I would have to go stand IN the water and let somebody else take my picture, so our readers could talk about how stupid I am for putting myself in that position.
When we report on an event at City Hall or school board, we go inside and hear the discussion, then write a story about what happened.
On television, they break away from the meeting and go stand outside (in the rain, wind or snow) with the courthouse or administration building in the background while they do their report.
If it’s 10 below zero and snowing, they stand outside so you, too, can feel the bitter cold. Likewise, if it’s raining, they stand out in the rain.
Perhaps you’ve seen the video clips of the reporter showing the power of a hurricane. Now really. Do you have to be standing out there with the ocean in the background, holding onto something, with your face turned inside out to show the effect of a hurricane?
Showing Merideth thigh deep in a pair of oversized waders really doesn’t give me a feel for how big the Mississippi is.
I like the aerial shots that show the spread of the floodwaters, the homes that are under water and the farmland that has been flooded. That shows me how devastating the flood really is.
Now I realize the electronic media rely on drama, making the most of the emotional issues, whether it be the weather or some other unfortunate event affecting a family.
We, in the newspaper business, like to think we deal more with the facts than the emotions.
Like when they interview the family member of someone who has been hurt or killed. The first question they ask is, “Can you describe how this makes you feel?” or, “What is going through your mind right now.”
Well, duh! What’s going through my mind is I wish you would get out of here and leave me alone. But usually the mother or father, or son or daughter, exercises the courtesy that the reporter lacks and goes on with the interview.
* * *
Back to the subject of weather.
I understand the local EMA office has taken some heat this week for not warning folks of the approaching windstorm last Thursday night.
I’ve been told EMA personnel were in the office monitoring the weather and staying in touch with the National Weather Service. No warnings were given.
The storm was one of those violent acts of nature that happens abruptly without forewarning.
The Weather Service knew there were thunderstorms in the area, but the violent wind shear that caused the damaging, straight-line winds was not detected on radar and could not be predicted until it was happening.
In all honesty, if weather spotters had been called out, all they could have reported back to the EMA office would have been “strong wind and heavy rain” and we were aware of that sitting in the house. There really was not much that could be done. As rapidly as the storm was moving, there was little purpose in sounding the storm warning siren after the storm had hit.
Yes, we have new personnel in the EMA office and they will do things differently than the previous directors. But please, give them a chance.