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Unless you’ve been holidaying in Luxor for the past few months, you may have noticed that it’s been a bit nippy of late. In fact, it’s been horrendous. Just last week, snow, sleet and more snow brought the world to a standstill. Schools and offices were shut, meetings were cancelled, snowmen were built and our roads doubled-up as ice rinks.
Many businesses lost valuable revenue as people were afraid to venture out in the freezing cold, whilst those of us who commute to work were left wondering how we would crawl our way into the office. However, amidst the bitter cold, one industry was making the best of the situation – the media.
Journalists got really creative, summarising the bleak weather with the catchy title – ‘The Big Freeze’.
Suddenly the weather was sexy, and like a showbiz reporter uncovering the Tiger Woods scandal – the media were all over it. National news programmes sent their reporters to the thick of the action for live links, even though the ‘action’ happened to be at anonymous, snow-covered pavements up and down the country. Newspapers devoted double-page spreads to the aerial view of – yet again – snow-topped streets. Meanwhile, the actual weather report added to our woes by flashing the weather warning symbol before every forecast, making nervous drivers like me even more panicked about skidding on the roads or simply being snowed in.
The weather forecast, which is normally confined to the end of a news broadcast, became the top story. Such extensive coverage had not been seen since Michael’s Jackson’s death.
On particularly snow-sodden days the weather dominated the entire news schedule. One regional news programme devoted its half-hour broadcast to exploring how snow had affected every facet of our lives. We gasped at the shots of cars skidding into lampposts, we empathised with people who were slipping on pavements, we were worried about the dwindling grit levels and we were amused by the sight of children making the best of the situation by throwing snowballs and sledging. Essentially, the good, the bad and the ugly we have all come to expect from our news roundup was being delivered by just one subject.
As the temperatures slowly rose, we breathed a collective sigh of relief that there would be no more talk of ‘The Big Freeze’. Little did we know, a new, sexier story was in the making – ‘The Big Thaw’. Now the media are warning us about the danger of black ice, and helping us count the cost of ‘The Big Freeze’ – oh joy.
It’s sad to see that it takes a natural disaster such as the earthquake in Haiti, which had claimed an estimated 50,000 lives (at the time of going to press), to knock the ‘Big Freeze/ Thaw’ off the top spot. The earthquake seems to have helped us all (journalists, civilians, and PRs alike) put things into perspective. In the grander scheme of things, as flipping cold as it has been, it’s not the end of the world, and perhaps there should have been a few more news segments which let us know what was going on in the rest of the world.
So, as the media are on tenterhooks, preparing for ‘The Big Flood’, I suggest that they report proportionately. The novelties worn off, as has the ‘Big Freeze’ and there’s bigger fish to fry.