By William M. Dowd
When local TV stations began superimposing “breaking weather” conditions on our screens some years ago, it was a novelty and mildly interesting. But, as the practice escalated, those same screens began showing the programs of interest in smaller and smaller format as the weather interference grew in scope and frequency.
At our house up here on Weathering Heights, we hate when that happens. We didn’t pay a gazillion bucks for a big-screen TV only to have self-indulgent local weatherbeings gobble up the space in their mad dash to justify all the money they put into equipment — those gadgets that don’t make them any more reliable than when our Aunt Minnie predicts rain because her corns hurt.
Remember the days when it just rained? Or thundered? Or gently snowed?
Not anymore. Now we are inundated with TV-beings intruding into our leisure hours by labeling anything other than balmy, clear weather as impending doom. Which, after all, shouldn’t be a surprise. They’re fulfilling their own prophecies, made when they gave their weather shows such labels as “Storm Tracker,” “First Warning” and “We’re About To Die.”
As soon as even a hint of anything other than sunshine or moonbeams is suspected, the urgent scrolls appear on our TV screens, shrinking the football game or the the action movie that needs as much screen space as possible to be successful. Then the messages are accompanied by maps, lightning bolts or clouds spewing rain, sometimes also accompanied by graphic strips that offer no information but serve only to further shrink the image.
It is obvious that the competition that is weather “forecasting” on TV has become a self-fulfilling necessity. Most newscasts give us weather capsules at the begining of the show, then a longer bunch of guesswork midway through, then another capsule at the end. Most days, there is a lot more going on in the world than the “threat” of a few raindrops or snowflakes. But, you’d never know it if TV remains your main source of information. There, image is everything.
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