Hurricane Irene raises questions of coverage

The extensive coverage Hurricane Irene received along with the little damage it created left many journalists and audiences wondering where the line was between informative and sensationalist.

Journalism.org posted a blog entry discussing the different sides of the issues.

According to the site, Hurricane Irene was the top subject on blogs based on information from the New Media Index from the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism.

Several articles delved on the issue of how the media had overdone the coverage of Irene.

They cited Howard Kurtz from the Daily Beast saying, “the the tsunami of hype on this story was relentless, a Category 5 performance that was driven in large measure by ratings.”

His argument essentially says the only reason the hurricane was so dangerous was because the media made it that way.

On the other hand, several commentators and bloggers argued that the coverage was fair.

The journalism.org article cited one such commentator as saying, “”People are dead. Gone. Deceased…In my area, Irene was a pretty damn big event and the hype saved lives.”

In other words, the people that were in the damaged areas felt the coverage was fair, and furthermore, that it was necessary to save lives.

According to the blog post, many bloggers agreed with the press coverage saying it was better to be safe than sorry.

For example, Doug Mataconis on the Outside Beltway blog said, “”There was plenty of stupid about the way the media covered Irene. However, as far as warning people of the danger of what was still one of the strongest tropical storms to hit the northeast in generations, it strikes me that Katrina has taught us to err on the side of too much information rather than too little.”

The questions to ponder then are: Did the media overdo the Hurricane Irene coverage? Does the media have a responsibility to citizens to publish such events to the greatest extent possible? Does doing this save lives? Is it better to be safe than sorry?

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