Tuesday, January 23, 2018
TV and Media

Competing TV reporters brave high winds, waves for Hurricane Sandy reports

As coverage of Hurricane Sandy filled cable TV channels, network newscasts and social media on Monday, it was a stubborn, repeatedly recurring sight — no matter how much ridicule it inspired online:

TV reporters stumbling in high winds, big waves and harsh weather.

ABC's Matt Gutman and his crew were tossed around by waves on the North Carolina coast Monday during a report for Good Morning America. Today show forecaster Al Roker, whose on-camera tumble during a 2005 report on Hurricane Wilma remains a viral hit, tweeted a photo of himself standing feet away from gigantic waves in Point Pleasant, N.J.

CNN's Ashleigh Banfield could barely be understood during a report from windblown Battery Park. Even CBS anchor Scott Pelley delivered an hourlong Evening News report from a blustery New Jersey spot, hair dripping with moisture.

Does any of this really help cover a storm expected to affect 60 million people with wind damage, flooding and rain?

Helen Swenson, senior vice president of live programming for the Weather Channel, offered an emphatic yes.

"The power of mother nature is best felt through pictures," said Swenson, an Inverness-raised University of Florida alum with experience covering hurricanes for TV stations in Miami and West Palm Beach. "We're in the business of conveying that drama."

At ABC News, James Goldston, the network's senior vice president of content and development, said Gutman thought he was in a safe area, only to be knocked over by a "rogue wave" forcing his team to move to higher ground. "We don't want unnecessary heroics," he said.

Such shots are an often-necessary result of the "arms race" that breaks out when competing news outlets try to dominate coverage of the same event, said Stacey Woelfel, news director at KOMU-TV in Missouri and an associate professor at the Missouri School of Journalism.

"Is it ratings driven?" he asked. "Sure, but it's also reporters going where the audience isn't able to go. Where it crosses the line ... if people laugh at you or fear for your life, you're distracting from the story."

Network TV morning shows were expected to devote all their time to Hurricane Sandy coverage today, following extended newscasts and primetime reports Monday.

And their efforts moved beyond TV: ABC News used a social media desk to push all of its content onto platforms like Twitter and Facebook, while the Weather Channel streamed coverage of the storm on its own sites and YouTube, attracting over 1 million stream starts.

Newspapers such as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Baltimore Sun dropped their website paywalls. And news outlets ranging from the Sun to CNN and the Weather Channel agreed to avoid using the term "frankenstorm," for fear of trivializing a major emergency.

Several New York-based entertainment shows also were canceled Monday, including the Daily Show, Colbert Report and Jimmy Kimmel Live, which had traveled from Los Angeles for a week's worth of shows from the host's Brooklyn hometown. CBS also yanked new episodes of its Monday primetime shows.

This was a dance Florida residents know well, the seemingly endless stories about preparations and possible damage before a storm slowly wreaks havoc.

Still, those live shots where reporters warn people about the same weather they're standing in — one CNN reporter even criticized a family while showing them waving happily on camera — will be with us for a while.

"We're out to show how dangerous mother nature is," Swenson said. "For every live shot you see on the air, you don't see all the times we tell them to shut down, or reporters tell us they're shutting down."

Comments
New Hogwarts light show, wand combat lessons, Harry Potter mobile game and 4 more things you must do at A Celebration of Harry Potter

New Hogwarts light show, wand combat lessons, Harry Potter mobile game and 4 more things you must do at A Celebration of Harry Potter

If you know the colors and creatures of the four Hogwarts houses and that the spell is "leviOsa" not "leviosA," then you're probably planning to attend A Celebration of Harry Potter this weekend at Universal Orlando.For the past five years, the theme...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Jordan Peele had a priceless reaction to 'Get Out's' Oscar nominations

Jordan Peele had a priceless reaction to 'Get Out's' Oscar nominations

Jordan Peele made history on Tuesday morning when the 2018 Oscar nominations were announced and his movie Get Out received four nods. Peele is only the fifth black filmmaker nominated for the best director Oscar and the third to helm a best-picture n...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Review: Taylor Kitsch is a scary-good David Koresh in ‘Waco’

Review: Taylor Kitsch is a scary-good David Koresh in ‘Waco’

Twenty-five years ago a 51-day shootout and weapons raid on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, left 82 followers of the religious sect and four federal agents dead.The limited series Waco on the newly minted Paramount Network aims to give a...
Updated: 8 hours ago

Tuesday’s sports on TV/radio

TODAYCollege basketballArkansas at Georgia6:30 p.m.SECProvidence at Villanova6:30 p.m.FS1Kansas at Oklahoma7 p.m.ESPNWisconsin at Iowa7 p.m.ESPN2Oklahoma State at Texas Tech7 p.m.ESPNewsVanderbilt at Tennessee7 p.m.ESPNUDavidson at Dayton7 p.m.CBSSNW...
Published: 01/22/18
Shows you should be watching: ‘Dark’ is the German ‘Stranger Things,’ only better

Shows you should be watching: ‘Dark’ is the German ‘Stranger Things,’ only better

What if everything that came from the past was actually influenced by the future?That's the main premise in Netflix's sci-fi horror, Dark, which has been deemed the German Stranger Things.While the two shows are entirely different beasts, it's an eas...
Published: 01/22/18
What to watch this week: ‘The Alienist,’ ‘Waco,’ RuPaul’s ‘All Stars’

What to watch this week: ‘The Alienist,’ ‘Waco,’ RuPaul’s ‘All Stars’

MondaySERIES PREMIERE: The Alienist, 9 p.m., TNT: The new drama follows an "alienist" (modern-day forensic psychologist), a secretary and an illustrator as they attempt to solve a series of grisly murders in 19th century New York City.The Resident, 9...
Published: 01/22/18
This week’s pop culture winners and losers

This week’s pop culture winners and losers

WinnersTimothée ChalametOscar darling Timothée Chalamet, whose breakout performances include Lady Bird and Call Me By Your Name, has pledged to donate his salary from his role in Woody Allen's A Rainy Day in New York to charities fighting s...
Published: 01/19/18
Review: ‘The Alienist’ is a grisly tale of murder, madness and class division

Review: ‘The Alienist’ is a grisly tale of murder, madness and class division

A doctor, an illustrator and a police department secretary are tasked by a young Theodore Roosevelt to conduct a secret investigation into a series of murders in 19th century New York City.The macabre tale is the focus of the new TNT series The Alien...
Published: 01/19/18
What to watch this weekend: ‘The Open House’ on Netflix, ‘The Alienist,’ ‘The Resident’

What to watch this weekend: ‘The Open House’ on Netflix, ‘The Alienist,’ ‘The Resident’

19th century serial killers: The AlienistIn the late 19th century, a doctor who studied and treated the mind (a modern-day criminal psychologist) was called an alienist because their patients were believed to be "alienated from their mind." Dr. Laszl...
Published: 01/19/18
'American Pickers' is coming to Florida, and wants to pick through your stuff

'American Pickers' is coming to Florida, and wants to pick through your stuff

Know someone with a cool collection of antiques, collectibles or dust-covered old “junk” they’ve been holding onto for years in the hopes of someday cashing in? The time may be now. American Pickers, the A&E reality series fol...
Published: 01/18/18