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.

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Doug Richards is a reporter at WXIA-TV. This is his personal blog. WXIA-TV has nothing whatsoever to do with this blog, under any circumstances, in any form. For anything written herein, Doug accepts sole credit and full blame. Follow him on Twitter: @richardsdoug. All rights reserved. Thanks for visiting.

7 thoughts on “Windblown

  1. News Junkie

    I’ve been reading your blog a while but have never commented. But I really appreciate the nuance and perspective you offer to local TV news, especially since there are really no media critics in Atlanta for print or TV. I loathe the local news stations’ obsession with weather of any kind, and always cringe at the melodramatic pitches like the one you saw Friday. The local TV news loovvvvesssss storms, they loovvvvveeeee the drought; and it almost makes you want to ignore important issues. The drought may be a very real threat to human life in Georgia, but from the beginning I’ve assumed most of what we are hearing is ridiculous media hyperbole. Driving back to Atlanta from South Georgia recently a friend and I were struck by how full all of the large lakes we passed were. We passed a patch of scorched earth that was burned out and left brittle tree limbs, and joked that that would be the location for the next drought report on the news.

  2. gooberpeas

    and don’t forget about snow forcasts….Atlanta stations will send a reporter to Chattanooga if necessary to get a shot of snow if none falls around here.

  3. SpaceyG

    Help! Someone! Please! Ken Cook came through my TV set, via his eyebrows, and now I’ve got this chain saw in my hand. He told me to go to Death Star Two and await further instructions. Stop me before I do something I may regret! Then again, once people no longer have to watch Pam Martin in hi-def, they may just set send me on my way. Hmmmm.

  4. Pingback: My New Attitude « live apartment fire

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