Media storm coverage gone to far?

Hurricane Irene sparks debate amongst journalists regarding the validity of media storm coverage.


Over the past week a debate has surfaced in the media over how well journalists handled coverage of Tropical Storm Irene. On one side some ask if journalists tend to over-hype storms of this nature, while others think that this over-hyping is simply necessary in order to deliver a product that people need/must be informed of.


So, do the media over-hype severe storms?


Many journalists such as CUYN’s Jeff Jarvis, seem to think that Hurricane Irene’s coverage wasn’t over-hyped so much as it was just plain bad— “Of course, the storm is serious but the coverage is often laughable and, some would argue, a matter of crying wolf. The inefficiency of the coverage is also boggling: crews everywhere, all shooting the same wind and water, yet saying nothing new.”



Chris Brainard, from the Columbia Journalism Review says, “A much bigger problem, in terms of geographic focus, was that the media spent too much time focused on big East Coast cities rather than the more rural areas, which ultimately fared worse.”


Of course there are other opinions on the issue— A Philadelphia Daily News editorial said, “We’d rather be over-prepared … as for the back-to-back round-the-clock coverage of Irene and the warnings about its catastrophic potential, we wonder: What else do you do about a hurricane described as the ‘size of Europe’ as it heads toward densely packed cities?”


This is an issue that has yielded fairly strong reactions from a variety of different organizations and people over the past couple of weeks, and for good reason. In a world dominated by shock value, be it in the news or in the movies, who’s to say what constitutes hyperbole and what should be considered necessary.



One Comment on “Media storm coverage gone to far?”

  1. Jacob says:

    While listening to the same story on every channel may be annoying, it is simply the reality of the current media world in which we live. A fear of being “beaten” by the competition leaves journalists monitoring each other often more closely then the general public. Had a news organization chosen not to cover the storm, they likely would have been criticized for not informing their readers/audience.

    With that being said, hindsight is always 20/20. It’s easy to say Irene received too much attention after much of the disaster was avoided. I’m curious what people would be saying had the hurricane hit with the force many feared. What would we think of the news organization who chose to follow something else at that point?

    These are the questions journalists wrestle with everyday.

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