Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Weather Channel Storm Profiteering

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.

(For more information on Blog see Blog description and table of context for most older posts.)

The following are the original replies when this was first posted on Open Salon.

But this is an opportunity to spend money. Get it?That's a good thing. One or two little wars, will be right as rain. I am sorry that you were poisoned over the debate of 1850 btw, as you deserved better than that Mr. President.Life in the big city I guess.

Don Rich August 27, 2011 11:53 AM

I thought it would be better to spend money on something more productive.

They can't get rid of me that easy; I just keep coming back!!

Was I from "the big city?" I always forget these things even when I do come back my memory doesn't.

zacherydtaylor August 27, 2011 12:17 PM NBC was an hour last night, and my lights or cable didn't even go out. Oh, and I live Hurricane Alley!

scanner August 27, 2011 03:15 PM

Zachary - I solved that problem years ago. Turned off the TV. WeatherUnderground is enough information for me. I don't need to watch idiots standing in the downpour about to get blown away or the lone fool surfing and the images of empty bread's the same thing each time. And I don't get in the traffic mass exodus either, as I am not stupid enough to think that all those people are going to find gas and hotels...sheesh. Can't even imagine what the city of New York is going through right now, though. That must be insane.

doublygifted August 27, 2011 10:35 PM

The thing is Zachary they can predict the trajectory of a storm but not the intensity. They have known from the start that the thing was NY bound and that in itself is a giant red flag. A category 4 or 5 slamming into NY and the low lying areas of western Long Island has the potential to kill a million people. This storm does not look like it will be more than a 1 but so did hurricane Andrew when it was offshore right before it wiped Homestead from the face of the earth when it made landfall, so they really aren’t crying wolf. The potential for extreme loss of life is there. They are doing what they should be doing for once lets not discourage them Zachary even King Bloomberg is acting like a real leader and has remained at his post all day and made tough decisions to preserve human life regardless of their consequences to business. He could have evacuated Rikers Island but I will let him have that one as “Bloomy” being “Bloomy”. I give them an A+ so far!

Jack Heart August 27, 2011 11:07 PM

We can buy Duck Tape.
WE buy 'Budweizer' and
wake up with headache.

` I though this was the other weather post.
James M. Emmerling is into the weather.
I hope Kerry Lauerman has a bit of sense.

James M.E. might cell phone call Kerry.
ASk Kerry to wear clothes and get home.
Some editors don't have commonsense.

Ad here reads Earthwise Jeweler Leber. Conflict Free Diamonds. Buy Gemstones. Buy recycled Gold and Platinum. no thanks.

Art James August 27, 2011 11:23 PM

The apex of junk news is TV news in LA. Perhaps the Weather Channel has copied the format.

old new lefty August 28, 2011 12:25 AM

Sounds like this all reduces to:

Some corporations try to make money no matter how they do it.

As Gomer Pyle might say: “Surprise, surprise!”

Frank Apisa August 28, 2011 12:02 PM

Scanner, I was beginning to wonder whether I jumped to conclusions about the south at least; for me it was windier than most storms but not that much and I didn’t get much rain; but I missed the brunt of the storm which went west by the time it got this far north. Chris Christie came out and admitted that it wasn’t as bad as they expected; but there was no consideration of the possibly that they hyped it too much this time.

Doubly gifted, now a days that is the best way to handle it but it would be much better if we could rely on a trustworthy media to report on these things since that would provide a valuable service if we actually had it.

Jack, I recognize that there are some inevitable difficulties but when they do things like change their format at a time when it may confuse people and it doesn’t even improve the quality of the reporting instead it makes it worse then there is something wrong. It was nice of Christie to decline to go on vacation for this one too; but I don’t get the impression their primary goal was too look out for the best interest of the public at all. In fact at times they became even more authoritarian than in the past including the “mandatory” evacuations which weren’t even enforceable and they never used them on storms that they should have known were worse. Also even though Scanner didn’t lose power I don’t doubt some areas were hit bad; but they often ignore many other disasters that have much more impact but are less dramatic and often result from corporate wrong doing.

Frank, it is of course not a surprise to many of us but many more complacent people forget about things quickly if they aren’t followed up by discussion and action.

Thanks for replying all

zacherydtaylor August 29, 2011 09:43 AM

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