Many people talk about the weather, but few ever express fear over the prospect of rain or even snow when the amount forecast is expected to range from a faint dusting to half an inch.
And yet, TV news today pushes the anxiety meter to 11 no matter what the situation calls for.
Night after night, local news anchors in New York tease upcoming stories of the usual mayhem, some of them quite serious -- gunfights in the streets, innocent bystanders killed or wounded, an announcement from the mayor or city council of something reasonably important, developments in international crises such as the war in Ukraine and other newsworthy subjects.
But after teasing one or two of these, the anchors invariably will say something like “We will have those stories in a moment, but first here is [insert weatherperson’s name] with our first-look weather!”
Some time in the last week or two, one of these reports on a local New York station had a weatherman reporting breathlessly about snow in the forecast and without modifying his tone actually “warned” that this “snowfall” would dust the city and its surrounding area.
At no time did a bug appear on screen with the words “Snow Dust Alert,” but give the local TV news biz time. They will get to that eventually.
TV news does this all time. The method is to deliver the weather forecasts in caffeinated tones. “Brace yourselves! Here it comes!”
“It certainly looks like rain!” Ed Norton famously exclaimed in a long-ago episode of “The Honeymooners” in a scene that was obviously played for laughs.
But the approach of rain is no laughing matter for the Chicken Littles of TV news. To them, rain is a weather event -- a time for cautions and warnings.
Don’t drive if you don’t have to! Leave earlier if you’re commuting to work! And most importantly, wake up at 4 a.m. to watch our first newscast of the day to be warned all over again about the drizzle to come!
Calm, detached weather conversations were traditionally part of our casual, day-to-day interactions with strangers and vague acquaintances in elevators and on buses.
Sure is cold today, isn’t it? Sure is.
The brevity of these exchanges underlines the point here: Most people do not get too bent out of shape about the weather.
Or maybe that is not the case anymore. Perhaps the media onslaught of weather warnings has done its job -- namely, to scare people half to death.
More and more each year, TV news ratchets up the hysteria level. Whether the subject is weather, war, a pandemic, the economy, crime in the streets or our divisive politics, TV news is there to fan the flames.
A caveat here concerning TV’s fixation on weather: It is true that in times of real weather emergencies, TV news does a very good job bringing the dangers home.
But we all know that those circumstances are exceptional.
In the main, TV news is now sounding alarms about a little rain, as if the rest of us are children who have to be instructed to carry an umbrella or wear a raincoat in the morning.
Windshield Wiper Alert! When you get into your car tomorrow morning and before you start to drive, be sure to check your windshield for droplets of water! If they’re there, then you’ll need to use your windshield wipers! For more advice on what do when it rains, tune it at 4 a.m.!
Here in West Michigan they don't hype up the weather if it isn't earth-shattering they only do it for a major storm coming. Like last week at this time when there was an ice storm got half an inch of ice and lost power for almost 2 days got it back Fri afternoon the power company said Fri morning. I'm fine with weather alert days to be weather aware.