Weathering the storm of ‘news’

1-27Op_webThank goodness that’s over. Until the next time. I’m not talking about the blizzard, per se, but rather the media frenzy that surrounded it.

Yes, weather reports are helpful, even necessary. But do we really need them every 10 minutes? (That’s the standard schedule, year-round, foul weather and fair, for at least one local station.)

Blizzard 2016 became the lead story on prime-time network newscasts a week before the storm hit, when the forecasters were not even sure when, where or if it would hit. Turns out, this time they were correct in their predictions. This time. But, even with all the meteorological Sturm und Drang, 28 people in several states died — most in car crashes, from hypothermia, or from heart attacks while shoveling snow, it was reported. Interminable forecasts did not help them.

I certainly do not mean to make light of those deaths. Or of the flooding at the Jersey Shore, which still has not recovered from Sandy. Or of any serious unplowed-street situation. My problem is with the TV media’s propensity for inanity when reporting snowfall stories. How many times do we need to hear a “news” report from someone standing outside a supermarket talking about the flood of shoppers?

Which leads me to a complaint I’ve made before: Why is there always such a panic? Even when just your average snowfall is predicted, milk and bread, etc., rapidly disappear from the stores. Shoppers are seen pushing carts overflowing with goods — enough to stock your average home for at least a week. Or a month. This is a feeding frenzy that feeds on itself.

How long do people in exurbia think they are going to be trapped inside without edibles? Saturday’s storm dumped more than a foot of snow on my town (estimates still vary), but by Sunday morning, when I went outside to dig out my car, drivers were already on the roads. I’m sure street conditions varied, but my point is, we weren’t tramping through barren wastes shooting squirrels for food.

Reporters were also stationed at hardware stores, interviewing people buying shovels, and, incredibly, at a clothing store, where the “news” was that customers were buying hats and gloves.

The only worthwhile on-the- street story I saw was on CNN on Saturday night when an intrepid reporter (I’d give him credit, but I can’t recall his name) ventured into the still-falling flakes to interview pedestrians who had filled Ninth Ave. in Hell’s Kitchen. (The street itself, not the sidewalks along.) These fun-loving folks saw a blizzard opportunity and took it. When else would they be able to walk there and not get mowed down by a taxi?

Kudos to them and the reporter, who even managed to find a snowman that these people (adults all) had built in the middle of the street. Apparently, they had already protected it from the snowplows at least once. “Save the Ninth Ave. snowman!” was their rallying cry. (Good luck with that.)

The lamest report I heard was from a newsie at one of the packed supermarkets somewhere in New Jersey. “Things are literally flying off the shelves!” she exclaimed. Really? If that were true, it would merit international coverage. And I’d love to see the videotape.

To those who understand my problem with her statement:

Congratulations. And thank you.

To all: Go out and build a snowman. Build a fort and have a snowball fight. Make snow angels. Slide down a hill on a sled. Or just go for a walk in a park.

There is fun to be had out there. And beauty to be appreciated.

Learn more about the writer ...