It’s a paradox of hurricane coverage: people on television spend days warning the public to get out of harm’s way, then station their correspondents squarely in the middle of howling wind and rain and hope they don’t get hurt.
That was the case throughout Sunday’s gripping coverage of Hurricane Irma’s assault on Florida. Journalists were the shock troops allowing the nation to experience the storm from the comfort of their living rooms. Networks all brought their top teams in on the weekend for special coverage, non-stop on the news channels.
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Yet when a huge tree limb crashed to the ground behind NBC’s Gabe Gutierrez, forcing him to scurry away during a live shot, it illustrated the danger many journalists faced. Network executives were one flying projectile away from a tragedy that would have them facing hard questions about whether they were placing a quest for exciting TV and ratings above common sense and public safety.
Several journalists stationed outside sought the relative security of building balconies that blocked some of the wind or, like NBC’s Kerry Sanders, a concrete parking garage. Yet many felt they couldn’t truly convey the storm’s power without showing themselves getting buffeted by the elements.
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