HAMMOND: At the close of this past weekend mainstream media was fixated on one thing, Hurricane Irene. Channel to channel, news outlet to news outlet, and the same story over and over. As the sun rose Saturday morning on the East coast all the hatches were down and the shutters locked, Category One storm Irene blew into the mainland around the North Carolinacoast with winds at eighty five miles per hour. After shifting its path back to the Atlantic, Atlantic Citybraced itself for a rare late summer storm. The low-lying areas on the New Jerseyshore awoke Sunday, August 28th to a storm with seventy five mile per hour winds and heavy rains that flooded already saturated ground. Since most of the Mainstream Medias headquarters are in theNew England area, their many news outlets had a field day with coverage. Many southerners felt the media blew the Cat 1 hurricane out of proportion. So I asked, was this storm the Northeast’s Katrina?
College students mainly receive their news from online and social media services along with television news outlets such as Fox News, CNN and even local channels such as WAFB Channel 9. To gain feedback from my peers I asked one simple question to a handful of college students, from Southeastern to LSU, “Did you think the media blew Hurricane Irene coverage out of proportion?” “Why or why not?”
The first student interviewed was Matt McCain, a Broadcast Media major at LSU. After questioning he replied, “Those northerners would make a big deal out of a summer thunderstorm here. I realize they received heavy rains and flooding but this was not a Katrina or Rita, not even a Gustav.” Many homes and businesses were flooded and the cost of damage to theNew Englandarea is going to be significant. “Yes there is flooding and major damages but go talk to the people on our coast, who lived inNew Orleansor even those inBiloxi. They will tell you what a hurricane is and what major damage actually looks like.” TheNew Englandarea is heavily populated and this is taking a major toll on the people there. A total of thirty eight deaths have been reported in the wake of Irene. One student, McKenzie Knippers, works at WAFB Channel 9 as the producer of the Sunday morning show said that their news coverage Sunday was affected. “Our head at the network kept changing our lead story to Irene. There was a major boating accident Saturday night where a few people were injured, that was our lead but they kept breaking into Irene coverage.” “It was upsetting to me and our anchors, that they would be in mid-sentence and all of a sudden we would have to switch over.” WAFB Channel 9 is owned by Raycom. A company based in theNew Englandarea. Many of the students I interviewed were disgusted with the coverage and said they turned off the news all weekend long.
The coverage of Irene was a little blown out of the water, no pun intended, but it is their job to report the latest news. Since they are stationed in the northeast this was big news to those affected. I do realize hurricanes like Irene are not a common occurrence there as they are here, but Mainstream Media has upset many viewers around the south who take offence to the massive amount of coverage for this small hurricane.