The news media has been blasted for its “hysterical” coverage of Hurricane Irene but I found the coverage not so much hysterical as hysterically hilarious. What is it about a storm that causes usually rational TV reporters to suddenly feel compelled to report on hurricanes by standing outside in pouring rain and blustery winds? Stay inside and dry and point the damn cameras outside to show us the crummy weather. We’d get it.
But for 48 straight hours all we saw on cable and network news were soggy reporters standing in water, on piers, on boardwalks and even in boats. Their sogginess didn’t add anything to their reports and often were so silly it distracted from the news. One guy was in a boat on a flooded street reporting live about how horrible the flooding was while some people walked behind him in the shot showing the water was only a foot deep. Another reporter apparently wanted to give the impression that he was risking his life by giving a grave account of the storm while standing on a beach.
Unfortunately, there were kids playing in the water behind him and fooling around while other people strolled along the shore. The most ridiculous example of silly reporting was when a local reporter noticed huge amounts of foam being whipped up by waves hitting a breakwater near a boardwalk. He climbed INTO the yellowish foam and reported that it didn’t smell so good. He later learned that was because untreated sewage was flowing into the sea and being whipped into the photogenic drifts of foam that most likely was toxic. He went from staff reporter to staff infection in two minutes.