This just in: snow has invaded the news

Feb. 28, 2005, midnight | By Christopher Consolino | 19 years, 3 months ago

It happens with every vague forecast that predicts the possibility of some accumulation. Come 5 a.m., it's show time. Dozens of weather maps are rendered, hundreds of reporters are stationed along insignificant roadways, the prismatic peacock is readied and oh yeah, other news stories are organized into a small pack.

While Armageddon (in the form of a blizzard) once deserved a whole day of coverage, these days, every inch of snow is carefully documented and tallied for viewers - morning, noon and night. As if knowing school is closed were not enough to excite students, apparently, it is also in our best interest to know that road 'X' in county 'Y,' which is 'Z' light-years away from us, is slippery.

Apparently, snow now merits a whole day of trite coverage. The early morning news has been even extended to begin at 4:30 a.m. (even though most school districts announce cancellations at 5 a.m.), greeting viewers with reporters in parkas carefully stationed throughout Maryland and Northern Virginia to tell us if it is snowing yet - couldn't we just look out the window and judge for ourselves? Then it's back to the newsroom where the weather man carefully explains the same forecast in three different ways using three different maps. And finally, back to the outdoors again where I luckily get to find out if it is between thank yous from the anchors and reporters. This time, however, there is a "but" in the reporter's snow update.

Despite the meager amount of snow, we are told it will get worse. Even if the snow isn't sticking to the roadways, by afternoon, the temperatures will drop, the snow will begin to settle and the Beltway will become a large sheet of ice. Personally, I'd rather they cut the segment short and just tell us we are going to freeze and die.

Commercial breaks begin to seem like a blessing, despite Reporter 'X' informing the station that, "We're going to take a closer look when we get back." This is one of the only times when I would ask companies to make longer ads, no matter their quality.

As the now 40-minute broadcast continues, we find out that the police, METRO spokesman and snow-plow drivers also think we are going to freeze and die. With the news hour over, it's now time for snow features! Back to the salt vats - it's time to discuss the lives of those who clear the roads in a segment which could usually be renamed "[driver name], a snow plow operator's story." Oh, and then the television station airs the three-minute pack the director previously forgot, about which details the unexciting, not-snow-related news. But, before that, one last reminder that, yes, we have confirmation that, in fact, it is snowing.

By the evening news, it's time again for another three-minute, not-snow-related news pack. Then, we get to the really important news: how families spent their day off. Interspersed between these interviews, the reporters, of course, take a look at the packed, frozen Beltway to tell us viewers the sad story of who died during the storm.

And just when you thought it was over, more ominous news just in about tomorrow's commute, which I have conveniently renamed "Freezing Armageddon of Slushy Doom." Yes, it may seem a tad over dramatized, but our happy little anchors take us back to the street where Reporter 'X' tells us that everything is going to freeze because temperatures drop at night. Oh, and for all those unaware masses out there, Reporter 'X' informs you that it snowed today.

Although I enjoy a good day off, I do not enjoy hearing about it for hours on end. While I can tolerate my television informing me of whether it is snowing or not outside, snow features are taking it a bit too far. Are news days really so slow that a flake or two merits multi-hour coverage in the form of rhetorical questions and thank yous from reporters? What's next? Snow entertainment reviews? (It is, in my opinion, that the overall presentation of today's snowstorm lacks a little emotional depth. I'd only give it three stars.) I personally enjoyed the good old days when the news just told me if school was closed, when the snow would start and end and what accumulation figures would come into play. It is about time snow-related news stories were cut short or just cut out entirely from the broadcast. But until then, you heard it from Silver Chips Online first: it is snowing outside.

Tags: print

Christopher Consolino. Christopher Consolino is a senior in Communication Arts Program. If Chris had free time, he would spend it practicing piano and taking pictures with his 15 year-old Minolta. He would also like to stress how much better wet process photography is than digital. Most of … More »

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