The Eastern Seaboard of the United States is currently experiencing the ravages of Hurricane Irene, and local television stations are desperately trying to justify their 21st-century existence by keeping staff meteorologists up ’round the clock and sending hapless reporters to the beach. As far as we’re concerned, reporters assigned to the Delaware Shore when steamed crabs and frozen custard are unavailable deserve hardship pay.
Local TV news coverage of hurricanes chiefly consists of shaky, intermittent video, and lots of wind noise. Live remote broadcasts show reporters invading evacuated coastal resort towns, driving through standing water, walking on the beach, and doing all the things citizens are cautioned against by emergency officials.
According to NAB standards and FCC regulations, video broadcasts of hurricane news must contain the following elements:
Mind-blowing, multicolored, dynamic weather map graphics no one understands
Viewer cellphone photos of cars and homes crushed by trees
Interviews with dog walkers and drunken, bar-hopping young people
Toppled and shattered fast-food drive-in signs (with any luck, lots of them)
Flooded streets, wind-tossed foliage and lamposts, ominous clouds, pounding surf
Shaky, rain-streaked stop-time images from traffic webcams
Reports of dead surfers whose last words were probably “Hey, watch this!”
Report any lapses to the authorities.
Image (“All Hurricane, All the Time, after Hokusai)”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com
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