I’m not going to sugarcoat or beat around the bush about this issue. Of course, the media hyped the coverage of the impending monstrous Hurricane Irene, but that isn’t as bad as people make it out to be. As a former journalist, who turned to “the dark side” of marketing and PR, here’s five reasons why.
1. It’s newsworthy.
One of the core principles of journalism is to objectively share the big stories of the day. There’s no denying that hurricanes, earthquakes and other natural disasters are big stories. They don’t happen everyday- thankfully and the affected communities need to know about it to prepare effectively.
2. It answers the “who cares?” question.
I had a professor at the Mizzou journalism school, who always asked, “Who is going to care?” after I pitched a story idea. Harsh, maybe? But, it’s absolutely a core question and makes any story tenfold better. Simply put, if no one cares or is going to care about the story, then it simply isn’t worth covering. For instance, covering a story about a hurricane that is going to impact every major city on the I-95 corridor from North Carolina to Maine is something many people will care about.
3. It’s a ratings gold mine.
Admit it, you watched The Weather Channel at some point right before or during Hurricane Irene. There’s something about watching Jim Cantore, or in this case, ABC News Reporter Matt Gutman doing the “hurricane shuffle” that is both fascinating and entertaining. You are not alone. Millions of us tuned in. It’s informative and entertaining. It’s a prime example of infotainment.
4. The media is a business just like anything else.
Like it or not, infotainment is a big reason why The Weather Channel and local TV stations stay in business. The media is a business just like mom and pop shops. They need to support themselves. And, infotainment stories, with cute reporters and metereologists doing the hurricane shuffle and/or standing in thigh deep floodwater, surrounded by debris and most likely sewage, are a fantastic way to get people tuned in to their station.
5. Can you imagine what would have happened if the media didn’t cover this?
As dramatic as this may seem, the media’s overzealous approach to Hurricane Irene coverage saved lives. Unless you literally lived under a rock, you knew about it. You knew about the importance of being prepared and about evacuation zones. You even knew that the MTA was going to shut down the entire NYC subway system as a precaution. Now whether you decided to heed the media’s advice was up to you and you alone (ahem, like the crazies who were surfing and kayaking during the hurricane) was your decision. But the ones who took the media’s coverage to heart were infinitely more prepared to weather the storm because of it.