There is no question that Hurricane Irene was a danger to life and property. And there is no denying that earthquakes are scary. But it seems that reporters often seem to thrive on creating fear when these events happen. Sometimes their reporting is excellent; sometimes it borders on the ridiculous.
There’s no question that Hurricane Irene reporting was essential and very well done. It was extremely important that information be relayed to ensure everyone’s safety. But a drive around Long Island 24 hours before the storm revealed just how fearful people had become. Closed stores, restaurants and movie theatres were everywhere Saturday morning — many hours before the first drizzle began collecting on windshields. Facebook and Twitter users got all fired up about the impending horror. One Weather Channel reporter went so far to predict that Irene would be a “life-changing storm for millions.” Anchors and on-site reporters were hyping everything from taped-up windows to windswept puddles in Midtown. They mostly redeemed themselves when the storm finally arrived as they did some terrific work.
But the earthquake coverage was hype of the worst kind. How many ways and times can you ask the man or woman in the street “what did you feel?” or “were you scared?” Countless hours of news time were devoted to inane “interviews” like that. Yes, it was somewhat exciting to talk about this rare east coast event, but to claim “I survived the earthquake” as some did was an insult to those who have lived (or died) through a deadly, devastating tremor.
Those in the media fighting for ratings always need the Next Big Thing to talk about. And reporters play an extremely important role during a major event like Irene. But they really do seem to trip over themselves to make everything so big. By doing so, they scare a lot of people. Your thoughts?