Editor’s Musings: Get Out of the Wind, Already

by Beth Weber

Large portions of the United States have been hit hard by hurricanes recently. The damage has been devastating, and cable news channels have been covering the weather 24/7. Every channel features reporters standing out in the rain and wind warning people not to go out in the wind and the rain.

Although there are exceptions, most people know better than to dally outside when 120 mile-per-hour winds are tearing up trees and buildings. Still, reporters feel compelled to let the winds blow them around while they get drenched, reporting what they are experiencing by gasping into their microphones. Their anchors back in the newsroom praise their bravery and then switch to another reporter who is getting soaked and being buffeted by high winds. The anchors usually end the segment by saying, “Stay safe.” Of course, if they meant it, the newsroom would order the reporters to use some common sense and go back inside. Common sense, unfortunately, doesn’t seem to have much to do with news coverage of weather events.
None of these dramatics are necessary to report on the weather, but I suppose they make for better ratings. Some people probably tune in hoping the reporters at least get knocked off their feet. I saw a video online of a reporter getting hit by a stop sign, but I’m pretty sure it was fake. Still, the possibility of injury is real. At the very least, the media is providing a bad example to the clueless, encouraging them to behave stupidly as well.
Some people refused to leave evacuation areas for no good reason except they didn’t want to run from the hurricane. One man swore he would ride out the storm on his boat. According to Time magazine, others had to be warned not to fire their guns into the wind since the bullets would likely come back and hit them or someone else.
Extreme weather brings out careless behavior in the press and in the populace. None of this silliness makes human beings look too smart in the eyes of Mother Nature.