The storm show must go on, regardles of its popularity

By John Toth / Editor and Publisher

I was glued to my monitor as I watched the developments of Hurricane Irma. With all the hype that it was making landfall as a huge, deadly hurricane, I wanted to see if I could find a website that posted storm pictures or videos of the destruction.

Then I clicked on the Weather Channel’s Facebook page.

“Watch Mike Bettes battle hurricane force winds from Irma’s eyewall during coverage in Naples, FL.,” boasted the post. Under it, on-air personality Bettes was bending into the wind and holding onto dear life. What is this, I thought, a circus act?

I was hoping that he would not be blown away, or be hit by some flying debris while showing viewers that conditions are really nasty in the path of the storm.

Here we go again, I thought. TV reporters turn performers as they demonstrate that water is wet and that during a hurricane there are strong winds.

This has been a pet peeve of mine for a long time. I never understood why networks and local stations would allow their employees to put themselves in harm’s way in places where mandatory evacuation orders have been issued.

It’s not that they don’t have the right to be there and do as they wish. A mandatory evacuation order does not mean that everybody has to evacuate. Those who want to ride out the storm can stay in affected areas. Authorities cannot physically remove them.

Mandatory just means that a really bad storm is coming, and you should really evacuate. So, it’s like a mandatory suggestion, not an order. Either way, you need to evacuate from those areas, unlike those clowns covering the storm.

I’m not saying that TV reporters should not visually relay information about the destructive force of a storm. But putting reporters in harm’s way is just crazy. It is also irresponsible.

The response to the Facebook post was almost all negative.

“Water is wet. Wind is windy. Hurricanes are a whole lot of both. We get it. Now bring your people inside and stop being idiots. This behavior is exactly what the authorities and you tell people not to do. Do you see the irony?”

“Incredibly irresponsible Weather Channel! I could not believe you were broadcasting this idiot standing out in a hurricane. Shame on you!”

“He is being very irresponsible!! Things could come flying and hurt him. I’m not appreciative that he’s risking injury to get the coverage. I’m P----D BECAUSE IT’S STRESSFUL! GET OUT OF THE HURRICANE’S PATH!! I’m turning this off.”

“Mike Bettes needs to go indoors. He looks like a goof. And, we can surely tell how bad the wind is blowing without him standing out there. Lol.”

These are some of the hundreds of negative comments on the post. I hope that the Weather Channel reads all of them and will change the way it covers these storms.

But chances are that this is the way it will remain until one of their reporters gets hurt or killed. Then they’ll wise up and start making some changes.

Do anything for attention, to stand out in the crowd.

Viewers, they think, should be saying: “Wow, what a brave soul, risking his life to show us how bad this storm is.”

But that’s not what they are saying. They hear the rain pounding on the roof and the wind howling. They already know that the storm is bad, and the vast majority does not think that these shenanigans are necessary.

“That is pure stupid and a total lack of sensible judgment. You all build these stories up talking about the danger and for people to be smart and safe, yet show this. All for your ratings.”

“He doesn’t even have sense enough to get out of the rain; are we supposed to be impressed or what?”
“This is ridiculous, this may cause people to never evacuate again . Shame on you.”

That sums it up well.