Bone-chilling: No exaggeration

Frigid temperatures across the northeast

“The media hypes EVERYTHING!” A common belief: Yes. A reality: At times, for certain stories. But not today.

In my “Journalism Ethics and Issues” class this afternoon, we briefly discussed how the media hypes many stories – the “media circus” as it is often called. Because of today’s bone-chilling temperatures in the northeast, my professor acknowledged the hype centered around weather stories. He said every weather-related story treats the upcoming snow storm, cold front or heat wave “as the end of the world.” I disagree.

Trust me. I have written my share of weather stories – some that I welcomed, others not so much. But there was no way around avoiding weather stories today – rightly so. Today’s stories were more than the normal report of temperatures and wild winter weather; they focused on alerting residents about the cold spell to avoid frostbite and hypothermia, as mentioned in an ABC News video. State and city officials warned northeast residents about the health dangers of the cold, and even opened warming shelters around Greater Boston.

As most weather stories mentioned, the temperatures today were numbing…and dangerous. The Boston Herald’s story narrows in on the dangers of not preparing for the cold. Boston hasn’t seen temperatures this severe since Jan. 22, 2005. Now that’s something to write about.

In the Herald’s article, Jim Greene, the director of Boston’s Emergency Shelter Commission, said:

“The difference between 20 degrees above zero and 20 degrees below can be life and death.”

Leading a newspaper with a weather story might not have been the best idea – though, I didn’t see evidence of that in the Boston papers today. But negative degree weather should not be ignored.

A story in yesterday’s Sunday New York Times, “Seeking a Warm Place on City’s Coldest Night,” truly shows the human condition. When bone-chilling weather hits the area, those of us blessed with heated shelter, winter hats, gloves and scarves don’t have to consider the possibility of not surviving. But some people do, and I think the stories in the news today bring to light the forgotten reality of many people’s lives in this country.

Inserted photo from Wikimedia Commons.

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