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Media: What Hurricane Coverage Can Teach Us

image from images1.dailykos.comIn the aftermath of this weekend's stormy weather, a few folks are asking questions about whether the media overdid it on the coverage and the hype.  Anyone who found him or herself (or a family member) stressed, hypnotized, overwhelmed but not necessarily usefully informed by the Hurricane Irene coverage knows what I mean.  This, of course, reminds me of education news coverage, which is often similarly superficial, herd-minded, inaccurate, speculative, and generally over the top (though of course not usually as extensive except when there are gunmen walking around a school or something).  After a weekend of sad, stress-inducing weather coverage I find myself wishing (again) that reporters would stick to what's happened rather than what could happen, rely less on emotionally-charged individual stakeholder interviews and more on overall numbers/trends.  It's someone's job to keep the outlet profitable and in business, but not yours.  And, perahps most of all, I wish that reporters and editors would strike out on their own rather than following the herd.  None of the major stations was brave enough to say that the storm was going to miss New York City, even when it was pretty clear that was going to be the case.  Too few education reporters are brave enough to check into and report similar relatiies in the education world (that massive layoffs aren't about to happen, or LIFO isn't such a big issue, really, or that Race To The Top really doesn't matter in the larger scheme of things).  I wish they would, though I don't expect it will happen anytime soon.  

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This is a nice analogy--well done.

But one correction: the storm didn't miss New York City. It was a direct hit. Fortunately the storm had weakened so much at that point that it didn't cause us much damage.

Hurricane trackers have a very difficult time predicting intensity and always prefer that people prepare for the worst. I think that's what happened this time and there were far fewer injuries, deaths, and property damage because of that preparation.

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