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Cable News Should Cool Its Weather Coverage

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I began this more than a week ago, but somehow it got temporarily blown away in a torrent of other things.

A week ago Friday CNN, MSNBC and FOX started their non-stop harangue of "Dean is coming! Dean is coming!"

By Sunday the crescendo of 'Dean is coming' reached such proportions as to call the other news "out" due to rain and wind.

Cool it guys, especially the Sunday anchors and reporters at CNN and FOX. CNBC has no news after noon on the weekends, or they would have be swept up by this, too. Getting manic over a storm that may or may not hit the continental U.S. is unnecessary and unprofessional.

With hair tossed, faces sweaty, and having been no where near anything resembling a storm, the reporters dashed onto the sets of their respective TV studios looking like they'd been carried in on the swirling eddies of a tornado.

For the most part weather is a local thing, affecting hardly anyone except those who live in the immediate area. They have a need to know. The majority of us don't. We should be informed so we are aware of what is going on in the country, but not constantly to the exclusion of everything else.

Unless we have a relative who's in the path of a storm or we're planning a trip, the majority of us are not affected one bit by a hurricane's approach.

Unless a refinery is taken out by crashing waves and roaring wind, the effect on anyone not in the path of the storm is minor at best. The price of a gallon of gas might rise a few cents along with the flood waters, but then...the oil companies are always looking for a reason to raise the prices.

We'll also never know if the price hike was due to the storm, or the oilmen will saying: Oh, what the hell. Storm. Raise the prices.

If you have a relative in Texas and you really care about how they'll weather the storm, you're in touch with them anyway, as I was when Flossie was approaching Hawaii a few weeks ago.

I'm going to take a giant leap here, and assume that anyone who's planning a trip is also wise enough to check the weather forecasts.

Now it's several days after Dean's just about blown himself out, and all that's left are some high clouds hanging over usually sunny Southern California, and surf that's a little higher than normal.

So, who blew in on the Sunday morning TV talk shows on the residual gusts of Dean? None other than Howard Kurtz with his "Reliable Sources" gang of weather hearties who have covered impending storms, raging against what they do on air.

They were pretty much in agreement that the cable news networks have gone wild, untamed, unleashed and drown themselves and us in hurricane coverage.

One talking head said that having a reporter standing outside in driving rain while telling the viewers not to do the same thing, made about as much sense as any of us going out in the rain without an umbrella.

They also agreed that storms, such as hurricanes have huge diameters, covering hundreds of miles, which brings us back to weather being a "local thing." A reporter being whip-lashed by winds in one area doesn't approach reporting what the storm is really like.

Go any number of miles in any direction of the compass, and you'll have a totally different story and a completely different perspective.

Kurtz suggested that this over-coverage might be due to Hurricane Katrina's influence on the news. They thought so. I don't. Katrina's advance was covered and hyped every bit as much as Hurricane Dean's.

Still, Bush slumbered through it, not wakening until well after the worst happened. Residents ignored it. Mayors and governors were awash in ill-preparedness.

We must have advance warning of impending storms, but the entire country does not need to be inundated with a constant deluge of coverage to the detriment of all other news.

The cable news networks should get out of competition with The Weather Channel and simply have three updates and hour, one every 20 minutes, or someday the TWC people might get it into their rain bonnets to start covering the "news."
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Sandy Sand began her writing career while raising three children and doing public relations work for Women's American ORT (Organization for Rehabilitation through Training). That led to a job as a reporter for the San Fernando Valley Chronicle, a (more...)
 

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