The Weather Channel has changed its coverage of the weather due to the storm; however it doesn’t seemed to be designed to improve the way they inform the consumers about the storms.
(First posted on August 27 2011)
Instead they seem to be changing things in a manner that is designed to increase their ratings and sell more ads.
They changed their local on the eights coverage at least for the duration of the storms but on at least a couple of occasions they actually skipped it; running ads instead.
Thirty years ago if a disaster happened we could count on the media to pay much more attention to it; in fact at times they would stop running ads so that they could focus on the more important disaster at hand.
Now disasters are an opportunity to try to keep people glued to the TV and they increase the ads if anything.
The new format doesn’t actually make it easier to understand the weather report; instead it makes it harder although the graphics may be better. They haven’t been showing the local radar that makes it easier to see how they came to their conclusions; instead they have been showing the radar of the hurricane farther south.
In fact I’m beginning to think they may be exaggerating this whole storm; actually I began to suspect this several days ago due to a track record of exaggerating storms that were not so bad and ignoring ones that were worse on the part of the establishment. In the past day there have been several signs that indicate that this may be another example, perhaps more extreme than most. This isn’t a guarantee yet, especially in the south where the storms usually hit the worst, but it doesn’t seem as if it will be that bad in the north. Last night on Rachel Maddow near the end they said something about it being an enormous size but not that strong; then they went on to say that it was still a serious hurricane warning.
Today they said that it gets weaker when it hits land which it did; apparently the worst ones may be the ones that stay right on the coast since they’re stronger over the sea but if they’re too far out they “go out to sea and don’t affect those on the land as much, or if they go inland they lose strength once they’re no longer over the sea; which is what is happening now. They downgraded it to a hurricane one and at the same time they’re saying that it is still a strong storm so even though they’re providing non-stop coverage it is hard to tell what they’re saying. They could do more to say things clearly; however instead they spend more time doing things like showing a sign someone wrote saying “Go away Irene; Stephanie Abrams you can stay.” They do more to promote their own anchors than they do to inform the public. They also had several scenes where the commentators seemed to be picking positions for the purpose of drama; in at least one case they had someone stand in the water when he could just as easily have stood out of it, presumably so they could make it seem more dramatic.
This isn’t the only times the weather channel has had these problems; Media researchers like Robert McChesney have reported about how the consolidated media have been doing their work in low wage areas and all media has been piped in from other parts of the world that are nowhere near the areas they’re covering. It isn’t uncommon for them to run reports that are obviously wrong; in fact they often run the same wrong report over and over again and at times they make absurd blunders like reporting snow on days where the lows are several degrees above freezing; needless to say if they get the temperature right it is rain not snow when this happens.
This isn’t limited to the weather channel of course; all the media outlets routinely provide coverage like this that is designed to put profits ahead of informing the public about disasters and it is getting steadily worse as they go along. If Climate Change continues to escalate or if there is just an escalation in pollution and civil unrest then we can expect this to get even worse in the future if the current establishment maintains power; and we may see even more problems coming including riots like they had in England as a result of all the unchecked corporate corruption. In fact Naomi Klein wrote about this tactic in her book The Shock Doctrine (available free online) which includes several examples of when this was used for profit after natural disasters, although most of her examples were due to political turmoil. The point is to have a business plan ready when a natural disaster happens and to follow it so that profits can be maximized; the top priority is no longer to minimize the damage when disasters hit and clean up with a minimum amount of damage. This sounds extreme but recent history overwhelmingly indicates that there are many examples where this is happening. Naomi Klein also provides plenty of mainstream sources to indicate that the examples she cites have a lot of credibility. Jeremy Scahill has also provided some coverage about this especially in his chapter about Katrina in Blackwater (also available online); the majority of this book is about military profiteering but this chapter also confirms some of Naomi’s reporting on the subject.
This is made even worse by the fact that they are doing little or nothing to prevent disasters ahead of time or to prepare to handle them better when they do occur; instead they’re using the panic that often comes when people are disaster to advance the profitable opportunities. Not only are they suppressing the environmental protection that could almost certainly slow down Climate Change; but they’re also doing more to reduce regulation that could prevent shoddy building construction in the same manner that they promote planned obsolescence in consumer goods. If we don’t have much more activity speaking out against this mindboggling epidemic of corporate corruption and, perhaps, Election Reform that enables the public to control the interview process of political applicants, often referred to as candidates, instead of the campaign contributors that profit from the corruption of those who are elected then we can expect an inevitable Decline and Fall of the American Empire, since this system is totally unsustainable. With the environment being destroyed we have more important things to do than to keep on searching for more ways to enable the richest people to make more profits without actually solving any of the most important problems that lead to these disaster.
This subject was discussed previously in a lighter manner in the “We interrupt this Global Catastrophe” blog; however this is no joke since the damage is real even when the disaster doesn’t hit as bad as might be the case this time the fraud is still escalating at an epidemic level.
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