Storm Coverage Goes Global

Wednesday, May 14th 2008, 6:02 pm
By: News 9

"All news is local." That's a phrase widely trumpeted in media circles. While the author of that axiom is unknown, it's largely believed to have been paraphrased by Tip O'Neill, a former U.S. House Speaker, who once said "All politics is local."

That has certainly been the case in recent years as Hurricane Katrina, the southeast tsunami, 9/11 and the Oklahoma City bombing dominated local airwaves. And in recent days, the same could be said about the string of bad weather in the Heartland, particularly the deadly Picher tornadoes.

I know first -hand about local news going national. It happens everytime severe weather hits Oklahoma.  And I get a call from my mother in New York City. 

Here's how it works: Tornado watches are in effect. John Mann, our assignment manager, sends our pilot/report Mason Dunn into the air with Sky News 9 HD chopper. Those pics air locally and then CNN or sometimes FOX News either takes our signal live or records the shots to air later for all the world to see. 

And then the calls come rolling in from home.  "Boy, you need to come home! That place is crazy!! What is going on down there?" my mother screams. 

It doesn't matter if the tornado was just a EF 1 or barely even registers. The calls come in within minutes. And not just from my mother. My sister usually calls me because if my mother hasn't heard from me in a matter of minutes, she calls her and then I hear about it. "Call you mother," my sister says.

I've worked at 5 stations across the country over the past 10 years and I've never covered weather like this since moving to Oklahoma City in 2005.  Flooding, tornadoes, straight-line winds and of course, grassfires which garnered me a newsroom nickname I can't say on this blog.

But in any event, there is an upside to local news going national: A quick response from nearby communities. Oklahoma City, New Orleans, New York and now Picher, Oklahoma can all relate to the kindness of strangers who descended on their communities ready to lend a hand in the wake of natural and man-made disasters.

Talk about a silver lining.