Baltimore local TV got good marks for its coverage of the Blizzard of 2016.
“Local TV in Baltimore appears to have grown up and has been mainly doing a solid job with a nasty weather story,” wrote Baltimore Sun media critic David Zurawik.
Zurawik went on to say he didn’t see any of what he calls “goofball antics” and instead saw a “sense of public service — news operations showing an understanding of the journalists’ role in situations like blizzards.”
And so, yesterday, I saw stations fanning out across the region to get information from elected officials, medical personnel and public safety officials. They camped out at the city command center on Calvert Street across from the Sun and at MEMA and at the headquarters of the big counties. And they were there with microphones, cameras and live reports when the people who are trained to handle weather tried to tell citizens what to do.
And they stayed on the air. WBAL, WJZ, WMAR and WBFF all pre-empted one or more regularly scheduled network or syndicated shows during the early evening news hours. And they didn’t just fill with two anchors sitting at a desk talking how much they hated shoveling snow or loved their four-wheel drive vehicles.
And all four are offering the same kind of coverage online while going mostly using social media to engage with viewers and give them the chance to share their thoughts, feelings and images of the storm. (I am not too crazy about the video I saw last night of a dog being forced to pull a sled with a little kid on it, but that’s probably just me: I like dogs a lot more than kids.)
The weather information itself has been mostly on the money as well – right down to practically the minutes on when the snow would arrive. Maybe that’s just the latest technology making the people who are giving us the information look better, but there was a sense of seriousness and purpose in the weathercasts that had been lacking at some stations in the past.