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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Goodbye Irene

The past and future of journalism were on display over the weekend as Hurricane Irene made its way up the East Coast. The future can't get here soon enough.

Howie Kurtz scored a direct hit in examining the hyperventilating, wall-to-wall coverage of television, particularly the cable news outlets, many of whose home bases in Washington and New York were in direct line with the storm. Somehow it seems appropriate that some of the worst damage was along the Jersey Shore.

While a substantially greater threat to safety than the Virginia earthquake days earlier,the overdrive coverage of both events could well leave viewers west of the Hudson wondering what happened in their necks of the woods while the media focused on their own fate.

It's worth noting that in an expanded, hour-long NBC Nightly News Saturday night, anchored by bigfoot Brian Williams, I saw no mention of the fact that US forces took out yet another biggie in the al Qaeda hierarchy.

But while Irene represented the traditional media at its worst, the storm gave hope for a brighter future. Brian Stelter of the New York Times offered riveting coverage, 140 characters at a time, from his position along the North Carolina shore as Irene made its initial landfall.

As he was during coverage of the aftermath of the Joplin tornado, Stelter offered facts, color and emotion tweet after tweet. The format proves that news can be timely and compelling without being verbose.

It was also a great opportunity for blogs, such as the indispensable Universal Hub, and for hyperlocal reporting on individual Facebook and Twitter feeds (although it would have been helpful if the Brookline Tab could have accurately figured out when the town was picking up my trash.)

And yes, in its own way Twitter signaled when the worst was over. That would have been when the anti-Obama cranks returned, trumpeting the Fox News "exclusive" that Joe Biden played golf hours before Irene came ashore.

With social media however, they can still report but I truly can decide.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

While it is irritating that the TV media especially cannot seem to cover more than big story at a time, power was out for more than 24 hours at my house in Central Mass. Did Howard Kurtz lose power at his house? Did Outraged Liberal lose his power?

August 29, 2011 2:32 PM  
Anonymous Outraged Vermonter said...

I guess the author of this little swipe was so out of touch that the devastation in Vermont & western Massachusetts never registered. May Bernie Sanders smack your butt until it hurts! :(

September 01, 2011 11:51 PM  
Blogger Outraged Liberal said...

I guess I failed to make my point as well as I wanted to. The hype, pre-arrival, was all about the coast. The interior was ignored and that's exactly where the warnings should have been. My criticism is not that Irene was a wimp but that the media lost sight of the real potential in the narrow focus on New York and Boston.

Does that means I can avoid a smack from Bernie?

September 03, 2011 10:27 AM  

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