First, to all our friends in the Middle Atlantic and Northeast, hang in there. Don’t try to be a shoveling hero. Walk safely. Drive safely if you have to drive. The storm itself is always kind of fun if you don’t have to be out in it. It gets the adrenaline going.
It’s the days and weeks after that are a big old drag. So just know: Here in Chicago, we feel your pain.
But about that storm. On Saturday night, as Beth and I were leaving Hackney’s, we stopped to say hello/goodbye to some friends on our way out. Since the storm had been on multiple TVs behind the bar, on my computer screen pretty much any time I looked at a news site during that day, and even on screens in the elevator at the gym, I was just kind of stormed out. And so, I said to our friends in my best sarcastic tone, “Did you hear there’s a big storm out East?”
Two of them laughed, but one immediately piped up in anger. Apparently I was the third person to have said something like that to him. And he wanted to make clear that he believed it was a serious event worth taking seriously. (I might add he lived in NYC for many years and was being honorably loyal to the New Yorkers who were getting buried.)
But my problem wasn’t with the storm being covered per se, but just the way it—like so, so many things in modern American life—was being over-covered. There really was not minute-to-minute news worth reporting. Still, national cable channels flashed on snow banks, radar screens, empty grocery shelves, etc. It’s the kind of footage they could probably get away with recycling from last year’s snow storm video.
Look I get as excited by bad weather that’s somebody’s else’s problem as the next guy (since I lived in North Carolina, I’ve had a thing for hurricanes). And I love madcap snow antics. And the Weather Channel gets a pass. I mean, it’s the Weather Channel.
What really aggravates me is that weather, like a lot of stuff, makes for a cheap story for what are supposed to be legitimate, national news operations. That is, compared to say, a story that requires extensive reporting over a long period of time, it doesn’t cost much. Why spend money on election coverage that has substance when you can plant a reporter in a snow bank? So the big storm is just part of a long and it seems to me worsening process of dumbing down news coverage.
To my point, check out this video from The Onion. It perfectly parodies the kind of TV news coverage I’m talking about. (Warning: Language, and definitely not safe for work.)
I laughed hard. Hope you do, too. And be careful out there.