Friday, December 09, 2005


Did you know it snowed today?

As Pennsylvania gets its first snowstorm, local TV stations get ready for coverage. Last night, it seemed like everyone was at the local PennDOT depot, saying, "PennDOT's gearing up!" Well, no duh. That's what they're supposed to do.

Today, we're treated to an array of standups from each station. Snow here, snow there, snow everywhere. Look, here's people shoveling! Look, here's people plowing!

I never understood why this market treats snowstorms like some crazy END OF THE WORLD deal. You would think Pennsylvanians never even saw snow, the way coverage treats it. But you know there's a producer breathing a sign of relief, because today won't be a slow news day.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's french toast time.... run out and get the bread, milk and eggs!

11:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny, I didn't hear anyone mention the world was ending last night or this morning. I think that is a bit of an over reaction on your part Howard.

Research has shown time and time again, the number one reason people tune into the local news is for the weather. Not to mention the fact that is was a storm that impacted the entire viewing area, so everyone from Williamsport to Mount Pocono wanted to know how much was coming.

Before you peg this coverage craze as something unique to the WB/SCR market, I found the same coverage on all the Philly and NYC stations last night.

12:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Research shows people watch TV news for weather. I don't like it, but it happens.

When it snows, everything shuts down. There's nothing to cover, except the snow.

It's visual.

It affects everyone.

Overboard? Yes! Absolutely! We just have to deal with it.

12:59 PM  
Blogger Howard Beale said...

I do not doubt, for one minute, that weather is perhaps the only reason why local news exists. Certainly, there's nothing wrong with covering it. But I think the coverage gets out of land. Last night on WBRE, they were harping about their "team coverage" of the impending doom. Seriously, everyone makes a mountain out of a mole hill when a few inches of snow falls.

A former colleague of mine spent some time as a reporter in upstate New York, where a foot of snow is not uncommon. Those stations do cover it, but they don't go into "HOLY CRAP TEAM COVERAGE EVERYONE" mode. Frankly, they treat it somewhat non-chalantly, because snow is an everyday event for them.

As for the "end of the world" comment criticized by the 12:58 p.m. respondent, I think your sarcasm meter is broken. :)

1:15 PM  
Blogger Howard Beale said...

Er, not out of land, out of hand.

1:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, why'd that famous guy climb that mountain? Because it was there, right? The snow's there. Maybe some people tend to stay indoors more when we have this kind of weather and showing them that we're keeping an eye on things for them, plus bringing them into an intersection covered with a foot of snow, wind blowing sideways, the traffic light swinging. Jeez, that's TV dude. Isn't that the whole point? Show them something where they're not.

3:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Howard: Those upstate NY stations are seeing snow everyday, it is no big deal to them. Look do the stations over react to storms, yes, but part of that comes from trying to fill over 5 hours of news time a day in a market that just doesn't produce that much news. Come to think of it, outside of NYC, what market does???

5:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excuse me, but this is what we do....we cover the thing most people are talking about on any given day. Sure, once in awhile it's "Hugo excapes from local jail via a bedsheet", but -sadly- for newshounds, that's not every day. Many days in the winter, the big story is SNOW. We react to the cards that are dealt. I think the fact that Howard mentions it in his blog is woefully behind the times. Real news people's not going away and it will not change.

9:21 PM  
Blogger Howard Beale said...

I can't help but feel like I offended some people by saying that TV stations in this market tend to overreact to minor snow storms...

11:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is the deal on covering the weather... viewers talk about it every day, and it is only worth leading the news... about once ever two weeks. That seems fair enough to the insiders.

What is winter weather nowadays? Of late, it is not two inches of snow every other day. It seems our climate is more along the lines of a nice pounding about once every two weeks. So here again, we have a topic if daily interest, yet which is important (read: newsworthy) only once every two weeks.

Does it rain every day in the spring? No. Do severe thunderstorms hit every day in the summer? No.

There is one hundred percent chance of SOME sort of weather happenng every day. That sounds like a "no, duh" kind of statement. But people want to know what to expect. The kids at the bus stop, the guy who walks to work, the retired couple who still shovel their own walk. So if you hear a lot about an impending storm, relax. It's only overblown now and then. And only over-staffed about twice a month.

That said, the television news bosses make two silly, yes, silly calls from time to time.

If they call in an extra crew to cover the storm, and it is only flurries right now (because the storm never arrived, or is late) there is NO REASON to stick that crew along the highway and make them go live. Why should you go live? Because there is news to talk about. You should not go live just because you got called in and you need to keep busy. This happened recently in Mountaintop, and it looked silly on the air, and attacks the reporter's credibility.

Second mistake by news bosses. When you do stories about people stocking up on bread and milk, it is very clear that you are making fun of those people. Nowadays, almost everyone lives within a reasonable distance of a Turkey Hill or some such store. That news angle should be put to rest. The crews make those people look pathetic by putting them on TV. The same goes for the Wal-Mart stories, where there is a run on shovels and quik-joe.

11:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey it might snow on Thursday, get ready now...

8:44 AM  

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