A Television Snow Job

journalism-award-350With more than a foot of snow, sleet, and ice falling over much of the nation, the television news teams went into overdrive. This may be an accurate description of one of those minute-by-minute broadcasts.

“I’m Harry Hansom. Co-anchor Polly Prattle just called. Her car slid into a ditch about eight miles from the studio. Fortunately, she had her roller-blades, and is skating furiously to get here so she doesn’t lose a day’s pay. We begin our Team Weather Coverage with chief meteorologist Hugh Miditty.”

“Based upon detailed computer analysis and extensive satellite monitoring, available only through our exclusive Poplar Eye-Witless Weather Watch System, we can report that the high temperature this day was set way back in 2008. It was 50 degrees then. Wow! That’s real high. The low was set in 1994 when the temperatures plummeted to a minus 8. But with any luck, we’ll be able to break that low point today our tomorrow. The cause of this record-breaker is an upper level atmospheric low-pressure system that formed just east of Phoenix, traveled north to I-80, then cruised east where it hit dead-center with another low-pressure system coming north from Spring training in Florida. Or, maybe it began in New Jersey, and then ran a doughnut of isobars around Pennsylvania. As you know, a lot of bad things begin in Jersey. It’s also possible it began in Canada, because all bad weather begins in Canada. Anyhow, before the storm leaves our area to drop two feet of hail on Bermuda, we’ll have anywhere from five inches to three feet of snow and sleet. Or, maybe, we’ll just have a foot or so of acid rain that’ll burn the paint off every car in a hundred mile radius.”

“Thanks, Hugh, for a report that got real deep. We continue our extended and comprehensive team coverage of the snow emergency with Flake Sepulveda.”

“From high atop our All-News Roof, I can tell you there’s a heap of snow out here. Let me fight the bruising wind and go to the edge of the roof and take a closer look. It appears . . .”

“We’ve lost communication with the roof. Let’s check traffic with Barry Blades in HeliCam 2.”

“It’s real white out here. I can’t see the road, but it looks like I’m a little south of Manitoba, and up to my rear rotor in snow. I’m also running out of fuel. Back to you, Harry.”

“For a ground-level view, we go LIVE to Susie Sweetwater.”

“I’m standing in the middle of a large parking lot. It seems to go on forever. The drivers have kept their motors running, but for some reason they aren’t moving onto the interstates.”

“Susie, I believe you’re standing in the middle of I-80. Have you seen any snow plows yet?”

“No, but that white stuff is all around me. As you can see, only my Gucci snow hat is visible at the moment. If my dumb cameraman hadn’t broken his leg trying to get 100 pounds of equipment out of the all-weather WFAD News VW bug, we’d have even better pictures of nothing.”

“Thanks Susie. Now to Bob Covina, LIVE at the headquarters of that place where all the equipment is. Bob, we understand there are thousands of cars on the interstates, and crews are nowhere to be seen.”

“That’s right, Harry. It’s a matter of safety. It’s dangerous for the workers to be out in this kind of weather, especially when there’s all those cars, buses, and trucks they’d have to dodge on the interstates.”

“Do you have any idea when the workers might begin to clear the roads?”
“It’s past 8 p.m. now, so I guess when Management comes to work around 9 or 10 tomorrow we’ll have a better idea.”

“Thanks, Bob. Now to our social issues reporter, Gopher Galapagos. We understand there are a lot of homeless people affected by this harsh cold, Gus.”

“That’s right. There are homeless people. I think they’re cold.”

“Thanks, Gus, for that important story. We have a special satellite link to the command center of the county’s Emergency Management Agency, deep within the reinforced bunker of Mount Melmac. Ethel, you’ve been EMA director 20 years, what’s your county doing to provide emergency assistance?”

“Nothing yet, Harry. We weren’t told to do anything, so we haven’t done anything. But, we’re all here in the command center just waiting to answer telephones if anyone calls.”

“Thanks, Ethel, keep us posted on the fine work you’ve been doing. In a warm Washington, D.C., office is our senior political correspondent, Stan Sheboygan, with an exclusive interview.”

“Sen. Sludgepump, your reaction to freezing cold and heaps of snow?”

“Well, son, ah guesses this should put to rest all that lib’ral nonsense ‘bout global warming. Ah’d-a-rec’mend that Al Gore get some long underwear, and then return that tin prize he got a few years back for that nonsense he preached.”

“Tin prize? . . . Oh, you must mean the Nobel Prize.”

“Tin. Copper. Whatever. He oughtta return it ’cuz he was wrong! Not just a li’l bitsy wrong, but real lib’ral wrong!”

“That was Sen. Sludgepump with his usual fine political analysis. Back to the studio.”

“We have a breaking news bulletin. That’s right. A breaking news bulletin. It’s exclusive on WFAD. Only on our station can you get this exclusive! I’ve just been handed a message about our breaking news bulletin. All electricity—I repeat ALL electricity—is out in a 50 mile radius of our studio. But, you sit right there, and we at WFAD will continue to bring you the latest news and weather. Now, LIVE on Second Street is Kiki Vertigo who’s been interviewing residents about their response to the snow.”

“With me right now, EXCLUSIVELY on Second Street, is resident Homer Bigeloo who has a snow shovel. Homer, what are you doing?”

“I’m shoveling snow.”

“Have you been shoveling long?”

“I don’t like snow.”

“How long haven’t you liked snow?”

walter-brasch“A long time.”

“Thanks, Homer. I’m Kiki Vertigo, LIVE on Second Street. Back to you, Harry.”

“Another great interview, Kiki. Right after this message from Mendocino Frozen TV Dinners, we’ll be back with an abbreviated ‘World in 60 Seconds’ edition, and special 15-second reports about the nuclear war in the Middle East and the break-through discovery of a cure for cancer.”

Walter Brasch
Wanderings

About Walter Brasch

Walter M. Brasch, Ph.D., is an award-winning journalist and author. He is a former multimedia writer-producer, newspaper and magazine reporter and editor, and is professor emeritus of mass communications from the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. His latest book is Fracking Pennsylvania, which looks at the health, environmental, geological, and economic impact of natural gas horizontal fracturing. He also investigates political collusion between the natural gas industry and politicians. Among his 18 books--most of which integrate history, politics, and contemporary social issues--are The Press and the State, Before the First Snow: Stories from the Revolution, Sinking the Ship of State: The Presidency of George W. Bush, The Joy of Sax: A Look at the Bill Clinton Administration, and Social Foundations of the Mass Media.

Comments

  1. Well… one gets the point. Proof that people love to talk about the weather. But still, there is a narrative that is carried by journalists that is deeper and more consistent.

    What you won’t see here on LAP, is a piece of the same brand of foolishness when it gets *hot*.

    When it gets cold, you see unique stories by journalists that are carrying the narrative via a rather standardized template (part from just straight weather reports).

    When it gets cold… record setting, long duration cold… we get two kinds of stories. Some, like this one, are about mocking the fact that its cold, and that we care far too much about it. The other kind of cold story of story finds some authority figure that tells us that the cold we’re seeing doesn’t disprove global warming.

    On the other hand… when its *hot*… record setting heat and heat waves, suddenly the journalists stop talking about how stupid it is to get over excited about weather, and the stories that locate authorities to explain how the heat we’re seeing doesn’t prove global warming. Those stories stop. Instead, the narrative requires a new template that heat in any form is linked to CO2 emissions and serious threats.

    Journalists reaching into their bag and using different templates, one for cold, and another for hot, obviously removes balance. As a journalistic practice, it has not connection to science or history… it’s just the workings of a mind following a narrative.

    In a world where we actually do value science (when fake studies are not conducted like the recent HIV/AIDS cure study with falsified results that earned 19 million in grant money, or studies funded by tobacco, etc)… we know that the world has not had an increase in average global temperatures for 15 years now… in fact, temperatures have been declining… despite aggressive increases in CO2 concentrations for the entire time.

    The facts are simple… Global temperatures have not followed the (very primitive) models that form the basis for man made global warming. These past 15 years were supposed to be significantly warmer (globally speaking) if the complex behavior of the atmosphere was represented well in the hand full of models that a very small group of people have been programming for the past few decades.

    The data and the models don’t match… and everyone know this.

    Science is very clear when it comes to theories and models that fail. But still, research teams want their grant money, be it HIV/AIDS or global warming.

    And the body of authority is the UN IPCC, which is a political body, and is filled with political appointees… including the “scientists” that contribute to it. (numerous key contributors have not even finished school and received degrees).

    The only report that the IPCC produces which is read by anybody is not written by climate researchers, but instead by bureaucrats, who feel free to add or omit things of their choosing, even when scientists object.

    When there is a LOT of money to be had, and the only report used to “inform” us about global warming is written by bureaucrats on a governmental panel…

    Well… you do the math.

    The additional and clear biases of template selecting journalists only adds to the problem.

  2. Terrific and right on point .

    -Nate

  3. Lee Rowan says:

    Hear, hear.

    When I moved to Canada a few years ago, the weather network was a lot more intelligent. They didn’t send their people out to stand around in bad weather, they warned viewers to stay inside unless they had to. Now apparently it’s been bought out and they’ve got the “BE AFRAID” mentality that ruined the weather channel in the US. It must be the same multinational corporation, too — they fired most of their reliable, articulate reporters and hired a bunch of women who wear their clothes a size too small and chirp in grating, nasal tones, and pronounce “temperature” as “temp-a-chure.”

    Oh, and the real tip-off…. they keep bragging about how popular they are. It’s kind of like when CNN started touting itself as “most trusted.” Instant BS alarm.

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