Monocolumn

A daily bulletin of news & opinion

14 November 2014

I’ve strayed pretty far from letting American TV news be a part of my days. I find it funny that I – a journalist who cut his teeth in TV news as a reporter, producer and even cameraman – seem to have strayed so far from it. Thank you, Monocle.

But there are times when, for one reason or another, I open the gates back up and let American TV’s version of news flow back into my life. Yesterday was one such case. I needed to know what the weather was doing on the West Coast. So, I started flipping the dial.

Beginning last winter, the weather media in the US decided to start calling a particular weather pattern the “Polar Vortex”. This happens when the cold Arctic air dips farther south than usual. This week, again, the “vortex” seems to be in full effect. All the major networks have made sure we are perfectly scared of the sub-zero temperatures so that we stay glued to our screens. After a simple channel search I had all the information I needed from the country’s leading weather personalities (meteorologists with questionable authority) to recall the names of each weather event in the US. There’s the “Express”, the “Polar Invasion” and the “Winter Storm Bozeman”. And, of course, the “Polar Vortex” causes them all.

The barrage of names and hyperbole is dizzying, yet it persists. Taking it even a step further is a certain weather guy who happens to be attempting to break the record for how long a weather personality actually stays on the air. A Norwegian woman has claimed she once did a 32-hour live weather broadcast. Her American challenger, who I won’t name but is well known as the host of a major morning show (for which, by way of a declaration of interest, I used to freelance), is aiming to beat her record by reporting on the weather for 34 hours straight. At the beginning of his marathon broadcast he seemed elated that so many severe weather events were taking place, suggesting that it gave him plenty to talk about.

This is where I realise that I have run off the tracks that led me to this profession. American media celebrates impending doom. This while creepy fans obsessed with media personalities flail around and wave pom-poms through the studio windows as said personalities tell us about the danger and severe weather to come. It’s a bit of a circus actually but so many of us just think it’s news.

By the time you read this our weather star will just be finishing his 34-hour broadcast, if all goes according to plan. And, I have a bit of advice for that weary weatherman: get some sleep. As for me, I’ll just turn the TV off, again walking away from a profession that has seriously let me down.

Tristan McAllister is Monocle’s transport editor.

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