I understand that print journalism and broadcast journalism are two completely different ball games, but with Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Jose in full force as this column is being written, I can’t help but question the tactics of some broadcast journalists.
Scrolling through Facebook and watching the morning news, I can’t help but see video after video of reporters standing in the middle of a storm as they tell individuals not to do the same.
The National Weather Service predicted winds up to 70 mph in addition to what the residents of Florida and the islands have already endured.
Tornados were spotted in Florida, and there’s been so much rain.
Even though Hurricane Irma was downgraded to a Tropical Storm, rainfall was still expected to be anywhere from 1 to 15 inches depending on the locality.
I don’t know about you, but when I hear 70 mile per hour winds, I don’t need to see someone standing in it to know that’s fast.
But going out and getting live coverage of storms is far from being new. It goes all the way back to the 1960s with Dan Rather covering Hurricane Carla.
It was the first look of a threat posed by a storm given to television viewers all around the country.
Rather was fascinated by hurricanes, and he knew it was going to be unusually large and fierce.
He knew it was going to be big breaking news, so he came up with a plan to go with his cameraman.
They ended up being the only news crew who made it to the island before it was closed off, and that coverage landed him a spot on CBS News.
Today, reporters follow Rather’s example. Wearing raincoats and rain boots, they trek down into the high waters and the high winds to show just how bad the storms are.
Some may enjoy it, but when I see the coverage, all I can think about is how dangerous it is and how it isn’t worth it.
In 1961, I can understand why he would want to do the live coverage in the eye of the storm, but with today’s technology, I just don’t see it as necessary.
I believe studios should look into the idea of using drones or just a fixed camera set up somehow before the storm hits to get coverage.
Or, with everyone today having social media and their own cameras, use video of viewers who were trapped in the storm. I’m sure they shared it on social media.
That way, viewers can still see the destruction, the force, the wind and the rain without having the danger of having a man or woman standing in the middle of it.
It’s recommended for individuals to avoid walking in floodwaters, to be careful outside and to rather just simply stay inside.
Even these news reporters share this same advice.
Maybe they should just heed their own advice before they get hurt while covering a story.
Just think of how their family may feel watching as they see their loved one getting blown around live on national television.