This morning began with all matter of school cancellations, warning of baseball sized hail, tornado talk, and the threat of severe storms. At one point, someone even predicted snow at higher elevations. One weather man tweeted that it "probably" wouldn't be to the level of April 2011, but couldn't rule it out. (That was when Chattanooga had a crazy tornado outbreak. Many colleges, including mine, let out early for the summer because of lack of water or power.)
Nothing happened. Well, actually, it's 9 PM, and I just heard some thunder outside for the first time all day.
Now listen, I'm not going to be un-reasonable and shake my fist at local weather men for peddling lies or anything, that's crazy. They can't control the weather, and sometimes they just end up being flat wrong. That's fine.
My biggest beef was how brazenly the local news showed its hand, and it truly hit me how much of a powerful tool the weather is for getting ratings.
Wait, hold on, what's that last one again? Ah, I see. It seems that Channel 3 is telling me that Channel 3 is among the essentials I need to survive a storm. Interesting. Basically, the necessity of Channel 3 is up there with food and money.
I'm not one of these "fake news" people who think that 100% of what we are fed by the media is lies or anything like that. That said, local news stations are struggling in the age of social media, and need eyeballs more than ever. What better way to get eyeballs then starting the day spreading panic about the weather, updating people on the developing severe situation for the entire day, only for it to end up being no big deal in the end?
Weather is a sticky business. I don't think that all weather predictions are based in bringing in ratings, but certainly, the possibility is there. When you start the day off saying we are getting baseball sized hail and we literally get nothing, it's hard not to be suspect. That said, you don't also want to take the risk of telling people not to worry about it and it ends up becoming really bad.
My point is basically that TV wants you to watch TV. If you're not glued to it getting updates constantly, you could die. The up to the minute updates on a situation make us feel like we're in control of an uncontrollable force. TV is a security blanket, and TV knows it.