Put yourself in the shoes of WSB’s Richard Elliott. He’s working the late shift on a Friday night. The weather turns slightly ugly, a few thunderstorms. But nothing gets Elliott’s bossfolk more excited than the potential for storm damage.
Elliott gets the call: A tree is down! Location: Dawsonville. So Elliott and a photog drive sixty miles to take a picture of a downed tree and lead WSB’s 11pm news with “storm damage.”
Why does TV news get excited about weather? Because its viewers apparently do. When the weather gets nasty, folks like to turn on their TVs. A Nielsen statistic called “households using television” proves it. Folks may watch because they want to see TV meteorologists like Ken Cook use their truly eye-popping graphics (and Satanic eyebrows) to detail the movement of the storm.
But we think they also watch because they know they’re in for some high entertainment. Local news started the live-shot-in-a-hurricane trend. The Weather Channel perfected it. Now people watch simply because they know they’ll be awestruck by the bravado / stupidity of such windblown performances.
All this trickles down to guys like Richard Elliott, making the 120 mile round-trip on a Friday night in a thunderstorm to do a live shot in front of a horizontal pine. Here’s the sad part: He killed. Guys with chainsaws were behind him as he spoke. At one point, a chainsaw-bearing local shooed Elliott out of the way so he could do his tree-carving work. It was, sorry to say, fun to watch.
On paper, the whole exercise was dumb. But after Elliott signed off, his bossfolk were undoubtedly high-fiving each other, congratulating themselves on their brilliance, and further emboldened to chase downed trees to the end of the earth next time there’s a storm.