I remember snowstorms when I was growing up. Before we went to bed, my parents would see on news report that there might be snow the next day, so they would say, “Hey, maybe there will be snow outside in the morning,” and we’d say, “Yay” and we’d go to sleep. Then in the morning, we would look outside, and say, “Wow, look at all that snow!” And after breakfast, we’d get our coats and boots and gloves on and go play. There could be two feet of snow or more, and we’d get busy digging tunnels under the snow so we could play all day. Meanwhile, our working parent(s) would shovel their car(s) out and go to work.
Now, the entire process is different.
Prior to the snowstorm
The “news” stations turn into a 24×7 overview of the “storm event.” For days ahead of time, they publish dire predictions of how much snow we might get. There could be minute by minute forecast updates. “Oh, it’s going to be 6 inches!!!” “NO, EIGHT!” “Oh my, it could reach 9.5 INCHES!” They’ll publish stories of the run on grocery stores where people stock up on water and milk and bread. The hype is so thick you could cut it, and the pressure and tension on these shows ratchet up and up. The serious faces of the news reporters as they share their predictions helps impart the dire nature of the upcoming storm.
During the snowstorm:
Then the weather event arrives, and as the first snowflakes are falling on the ground, some poor reporter is standing on a street corner somewhere describing the “weather.” He or she will describe how cold and blustery it is, often accompanied by a description of how bad the roads are getting (as cars speed down the road just fine behind him/her). As the storms intensifies, or doesn’t, reporters from all corners of the reporting area will share pictures of snowflakes and wind and accumulations on the ground.
After the snowstorm:
For days, the news coverage of the storm continues as the reporters show the same picture of a fallen tree over and over and talk about the cleanup. Depending on how bad the storm is, there may be reports of all the electric and utility crews out on the scene. The amount of salt and sand used during the storm gets compiled and shared as the hype starts regarding the next potential storm.
So here’s the thing.
I think we had a more rational approach fifty years ago. Unless there is a true blizzard of 2 feet or more with 40 mile per hour winds, it’s not even news. We shouldn’t be interrupting or canceling regular programming because we’re getting some snow or ice or rain. Let the weather person on the regular news program show the weather at the regularly appointed weather time. Then move on to real news. Most cable TV companies have a weather channel if someone really wants to sit with bated breath and watch every single snowflake land. Or even better, there’s the Internet with access to the weather channel or the noaa site or many other weather sources.
For the rest of us?
Most of us know that we can pull the curtain back, look outside, and see what the weather is. It’s just weather. It’s not news. And now we return to your regularly scheduled programming.