1133 How to Cover a Storm
With snow falling, not exactly a winter aberration, it’s time to refresh our memories of how to report it.
This one has caused a bank-run on the word “brace.” You see it in every headline. “Northeast bracing...” “New England braces...” other than that... it’s a storm. (How do you brace for a storm? Do you stand outside at attention and wait for it to hit? Put on suspenders?)
Meteorologists will tell you that each storm has a distinct personality, a unique behavior and its own fur coat. This is not true. It's the same damn thing over and over.
And they're all covered by reporters and producers and camera crews in the same way.
First, there's the run-up. When the Big One is forecast, it is necessary to dispatch reporters to the barn or garage where they keep the plows and the sand trucks. They'll set up the picture so there's some poor beleaguered guy in need of a shave, bundled up and with a watch cap on in the center. In the background will be huge stacks of bags of something, most likely sand or salt and fork lifts going back and forth carrying smaller stacks of bags from one side of the room to another. No one has ever determined why the fork lifts have to move the stuff from side to side when the entrance to the barn or garage is where the camera is standing. Probably they have to move the stuff under their contracts, but don't want to risk moving it so as to bury the poor beleaguered guy in need of a shave, bundled up and with a watch cap. Or the camera.
The guy will then say something like "we're ready for this one, Bob, we have X tons of salt and X tons of sand and we're in good shape." The reporter then peers into the camera with that oh-so-sincere and serious look and says something like "...so we'll soon see all of these men and women out on the roads, clearing the paths ... blah blah blah..."
When the snow starts, possibly a day later, the Street Cams take over. The news anchor will go from outdoor scene to outdoor scene showing you, the viewer, what it looks like on this road and that corner.
Then the meteorologist steps in and talks in front of colorful charts that show the projected path of the storm and seven different alternatives in case the first is wrong. By the time that's finished, you wish you were watching the shopping channel.
Finally, comes the snow. So now it's time to bundle up the reporters and send them out into chin-high drifts. If there aren't chin-high drifts, seat them on hip high drifts. If there aren't hip high drifts just let 'em stand up and prattle.
Every damned one of them is the same. Only the punch line differs. There are two possibilities: (1) "We made it through the storm! or (2) We dodged the bullet this time.
(Portions of the above were excavated and scraped from a similar piece in 2010.)
--Are you sick enough of those “we’ll double the offer, just pay separate shipping and handling” commercials? Do you realize that “handling” is a profit center and that usually, the one + one free = 1.5 after you pay all the fees? Anyone out there can use half a frying pan?
--What’s all the fuss about drones? They’re just fine as any player of banjo, dulcimer or bagpipes will tell you. And drones have been running both the government and many private corporations for centuries.
--The “Atlas Shrugged” movies were box office bombs. So what do the filmmakers plan to do? Why, make Part III. Maybe they’re trying to achieve cult status like “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure.”
I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
© WJR 2010, 2013
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