Tags: Pete Carroll | Mayor Bill de Blasio | Super Bowl | Weather

Return to Basic Reporting Can Restore Media's Credibility

Thursday, 05 February 2015 01:49 PM Current | Bio | Archive

To say the weather people got it wrong recently is like saying Seahawks’ coach Pete Carroll simply made a bad call. As everybody knows, including Seattle’s players, Carroll’s inexplicable goof on the last play of the Super Bowl snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in the world’s biggest game.

But Carroll’s mistake is a one and done — having no real impact on anyone’s life. The news media’s constant stream of ultra-hyped stories, combined with its uncanny ability to get so much wrong, is detrimental to everyone. About the only people who aren’t grasping that are those in the media itself.

A massive blunder, the media recently forecasted snow with storm of the century hype; scaring the bejesus out of people with team coverage dominating the news cycle. Their way off the mark predictions were a huge snowjob. How we fell for it shows how soft we’ve become.

The media, especially weather people (calling them "weather forecasters" is an oxymoron) had they any brains, would have led off the post-storm news with a mea culpa. “We were dead wrong. Not just in our predictions, but in shamelessly hyping the storm that wasn’t, severely interrupting every facet of your lives, from canceled meetings to closed schools to parents forced to take vacation days. We apologize.”

Too many news directors spend more time trying to keep their jobs rather than doing them, subscribing to the herd mentality of doing the exact the same thing as their competitors. The fact ratings continue to decline, and that those left watching do so with palpable disdain, is completely lost on them.

In yet another example how wimpy America has become, numerous politicians fed into the hype by making unprecedented moves based on fear, such as New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, shutting down the subway for the first time in its 110-year history due to a forecast.

Not that long ago, shutting down any subway, especially New York’s, wouldn’t have been an option. Americans refused to let adverse weather get the best of them. It was a badge of honor to keep things open.

That hardy nature has been replaced by a softness too many readily accept, along with the insane attempt to eliminate risk, part of the new American way of running away from problems. Turns out that “Stronger Than The Storm” is nothing more than a slick TV slogan after all. “My children's school was canceled today. Because of, what? Some ice?"

We have reached the point where many administrators are ordering delayed openings or cancellations, but not for snow. Schools are now routinely closing because it’s cold. How is that possible? It’s winter. It gets cold. Why is that a foreign concept? Do they have any idea the havoc they wreak on parents scrambling to make arrangements, and the impact on jobs and vacations — jobs ultimately paying their salaries?

The above quote was by President Obama in 2009 as he was dumbfounded that Washington shut down over some bad weather, unlike his native Chicago, where, at that point, schools hadn’t closed for snow in ten years. If only he had used more of that gritty determination on other matters.

How many Stormtrackers, Weather Authorities, Mobile Weather Labs, Double Scans, and Mega Dopplers do we really need? Especially when they can’t even provide a semblance of accuracy when it matters most. That's a lot of different ways to say the same thing —uninformative and, often, inaccurate forecasts. And is it really necessary for TV stations to go on the air extra early (4:00 a.m.) a full day before a snow event?

We don’t know, nor care, what Alberta Clippers and polar vortexes are. We can’t tell the difference between high and low pressure. We understand that sleet, ice and freezing rain are all pretty much the same — bad.

Let’s cut to the chase. The only things we need to know are what the weather will be today, tonight, tomorrow, and the next few days.

We don’t need team coverage bringing us the same old pictures of salt trucks, plows, and people saying how cold it is. Most of all, we don’t need the patronizing condescension of weather-folks with enhanced assets and bureaucrats telling us to “be careful,” “take it easy,” “slow down,” and “stay off the roads.” Gee thanks. We wouldn’t have known that had you not shoved it down our throats eight times over the last half hour.

There will always be morons who drive 80 miles an hour in snow because they think SUVs are invincible. No amount of platitudes will prevent that, so let’s stop with nanny-state commands.

The media needs to reinvent itself and get back to basics, or the storm clouds threatening it will only grow more severe.

Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, Freindly Fire Zone Media. Read more reports from Chris Freind — Click Here Now.

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The media needs to reinvent itself and get back to basics, or the storm clouds threatening it will only grow more severe.
Pete Carroll, Mayor Bill de Blasio, Super Bowl, Weather
Thursday, 05 February 2015 01:49 PM
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