Reporter Risk in the Eye of the Storm

The on-going, once-in-a-lifetime storm events in Texas and Florida not only obliterated homes and power lines but also virtually blew all other news out of the water for the better part of two weeks and counting. This week, the New York Times’ Sopan Deb took an interesting look at TV storm reporting asking, in essence, whether the media takes undue risks out there.

Deb’s article points to, in particular, social media comments regarding images of reporters barely able to stand as wind and rain threatened their balance if not, one might think, their lives. “’Why do these news networks feel the need to put these reporters out there’ [someone] tweet[s]. ‘This is not safe. Lead by example.’ [another says].”

Talking the other side of the equation was controversial radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh who, early on, questioned whether TV storm coverage was unnecessarily being hyped for ratings and a platform to push a pro-global warming agenda. After being blasted by media and state officials concerned his words might weaken the call to evacuate, Limbaugh acquiesced – and then headed for higher ground himself (literally not figuratively).

The fact of the matter is, putting itself in the veritable eye of the storm is what media is and does. Legendary is CBS News radio correspondent Edward R. Murrow and his reporting from war torn England as Germany dropped bombs during the infamous London Blitz. Embedded journalists then became commonplace during every subsequent war, including Vietnam and the Persian Gulf War (remember the “Scud Stud?”).

When it comes to storm coverage, as the New York Times piece notes, the media not only serves to inform but also to motivate – in this realm showing real pictures in real time why Mother Nature is nothing to be taken lightly and, quite often, a force to vacate oneself from.