Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Gustav Blows Hard. Reporters Blow Harder.

The good news is that Gustav seemed to have spared New Orleans and the rest of the Gulf Coast from the same catastrophic damage that Katrina produced thee years earlier as all the localities seemed much better prepared and communications with all levels of government were cohesive and working. However there was some bad news to report too. Bad weather brings bad reporters out too. As Paul Farhi reports in today’s Washington Post, there was a “High Chance of Blowhards” out in the New Orleans region too.

Before I begin to rip network news anchors a new one I do want to mention that Jim Cantore and the rest of The Weather Channel crew are excused from this discussion because reporting in bad weather is there sole job! Also excluded from this “ripping” are the camera and audio operators who also brave this weather but usually get nothing but a quick shot of (as Farhi puts it): “...the disembodied hand of a TV camera person wiping the rain-spattered lens in the middle of the correspondent's report.” Now on to the show.

I only wish that you fine readers out there who haven’t been a network news room when a big story hits could get that chance and hear the powerbrokers for the “big” anchors battle out to see who gets to go to cover the big story live. Now I don’t mean live like actually in the thick of danger...that goes to the lower peons. Unless of course you are Anderson Cooper and no longer the golden boy at CNN or you’re Geraldo Rivera and you are a complete idiot. No these peons are the ones who have to go into danger and cover a story that really can be accomplished with just a camera operator and a producer shooting and airing live footage while an anchor talks over top. These are the peons who are so desperate to move up the corporate ladder that they put their lives in jeopardy by going out in a hurricane and telling everybody why they should stay inside.

Then we have the aforementioned “power brokers” (Katie Couric, Matt Lauer, et al) who cover these same events live but at the prerequisite safe distance so as not to put their “face” in danger of the same peril that befalls the lower rungs out in the field. These folks sit up in directors chairs at least ½ mile, if not more, away from any danger and smile for the audience bringing us stories of the survivors who “rode it out” and of Fluffy the cat who swam all the way home after being carried away by flood waters (or was that Geraldo who was looking for dinner??). Unfortunately my desire to see all the field lights fall onto these phonies has yet to happen but that’s why we keep watching. One day this kind of catastrophe will come true and then I can go back to watching Sports Center. Da-na-na. Da-na-na!

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