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Sean Daly, Michelle Stark and Sharon Kennedy Wynne

Weather Channel streams live Hurricane Sandy coverage, while newspapers drop paywalls and media world gears up

29

October

hurricane-sandy-coverage.jpgAs the morning TV shows and cable news channels begin covering the approach of Hurricane Sandy to the East Coast today, the world is getting a taste of life in the Sunshine State during hurricane season -- when the danger of an approaching storm requires blanket coverage before anyone knows how bad it will be.

In an ominous sign, President Obama this morning canceled a planned appearance at a rally in Orlando not long after visiting campaign workers there, deciding to head back to Washington D.C. and prepare for the storm. Weather experts say the storm remains on track to be one of the worst to impact the East Coast in recent memory, potentially leaving millions without power for days and drenching an area stretching from Virginia to Maine with high winds and flooding.

The Weather Channel is planning to stream its coverage of the storm on its website -- see by clicking here -- while newspapers such as The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Baltimore Sun have all dropped their paywalls for the duration of their Sandy coverage (New York Times media reporter Brian Stelter is even streaming live video of huge waves from his post in evacuated Rehoboth Beach; check it out here).

hc-hurricane-sandys-projected-path-20121025.jpgOn morning TV, everyone from CNN's Soledad O'Brien to NBC's Al Roker were decked out in rain gear and out in the elements, recreating that time-honored practice of standing in severe weather to show how severe it really is. We can only hope that, as conditions intensify, these folks show a little more restraint; it remains an odd sight to see reporters in the elements as emergency workers urge the public not to go outside unless they absolutely must.

Today show anchor Savannah Guthrie tweeted this morning that she expected the entire four-hour span of Tuesday's program would be devoted to Hurricane Sandy coverage. The big three morning shows spent lots of time on the subject Monday morning already, continuing coverage which began over the weekend. 

Beyond the 7,000 canceled flights ABC News reported this morning, the media industry may fell the impact of Hurricane Sandy in odd ways. ABC's West Coast-based late night host Jimmy Kimmel had planned a week's worth of shows from Brooklyn long before the storm hit ; according to Deadline.com, Kimmel, CBS' David Letterman and NBC's Jimmy Fallon all planned to continue taping their late-night shows, though I wonder how tough it may be to get guests and audience should the storm really impact as badly as expected.

(UPDATE: Kimmel has canceled his Brooklyn show for tonight, along with cancellations by The Daily Show and Colbert Report, according to the New York Times. CNN anchor Anderson Cooper's daytime show had three audience members -- folks who showed anyway when the program told audience members not to bother coming. So far, Letterman and Fallon still intend to tape new episodes even though getting an audience with subways shut down could be a problem. But guests may not be a problem. Also according to Deadline, TV studios owned by Warner Bros, CBS, and NBC have all canceled production for today, so there may be a lot of stars with an unexpected burst of free time.)

This is a dance Florida residents know well; the seemingly endless stories about preparations and possible damage before the storm actually impacts and the wait for destruction begins. More residents will likely depend on smartphones and social media to stay informed during the storm, which could be a mistake is cellphone towers go down or long stretches without power make charging communications devices difficult.

Just as the storm evolves, expect the coverage to morph, as the world's media center battens down for a strike from a system some tabloids are already calling the Frankenstorm. Sitting on the sidelines in hurricane alley, we here in Florida can only sympathize and keep our fingers crossed.

[Last modified: Monday, October 29, 2012 1:48pm]

    

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