Millions of citizens will be watching TV in the next 24-48 hours, tracking Hurricane Sandy.
There will be plenty of people watching from thousands of miles away, like I’ve been doing here in L.A.
But there will also be the millions who are affected by the storm directly, who will be watching their local channels to monitor the storm in their community.
The service provided by this coverage in local communities cannot be overpraised. It’s TV doing what TV does best.
I wonder which TV station will emerge as the WWL of this storm. WWL, the Belo affiliate in New Orleans, did extraordinary coverage of another big storm, Katrina.
With a blog, live streaming video over the Internet and backup using the facilities of LSU (in Baton Rogue) and then Louisiana Public Broadcasting, WWL provided a beacon for those in the New Orleans community like no other. As one viewer said, “When every light was out, WWL was there."
If the coverage WWL did wasn’t exemplary enough, check out the video below. As a news crew is shooting a flooded street during Katrina, a car drives into it. That’s WWL producer Chris Merrifield who says, “Excuse me,” to the cameraman and runs into the water to help rescue the driver.
To all the TV personnel who are covering Sandy, and who have covered previous disasters and storms and who will cover them in the future, a big thank you from all of us watching.