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Marianne Paskowski

A Great Day to Be a Couch Potato

April 9, 2008 1:32 PM

One of the biggest stories on cable news networks today was American Airlines’ grounding of 1,000 flights, which stemmed from an FAA mandate demanding inspection of the airline’s workhorse fleet, the MD-80.

The problem and the news coverage ramped up during the day. The footage of stranded passengers at airports, scrambling to make other plans, was a scene many of us have been part of ourselves.

And for once this couch potato was just a voyeur and not a participant.

The trouble began Tuesday afternoon when American grounded 460 flights. By this morning, that number grew to 800 canceled flights and by 1 p.m. the number of grounded flights escalated to more than 1,000.

If you missed the story and plan to fly American tomorrow, consider bagging your plans, as the delays are expected to expand into Thursday.

Or should you? I often wonder if cable news nets over-hype stories like this or actually provide solid service journalism.

I ask because last Thanksgiving, we drove to Chicago rather than fly, our decision based largely on countless news stories predicting very bad weather that would cripple O’Hare Airport.

Guess what? It wasn’t at all.


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Comments (4)

Andy S.:

If there's one type of story that's consistently overhyped in TV news, it's weather forecasts, and that's especially true when they're "predicting" big storms. The weather report is one of the engines of TV news; many people tune in just for that, so both cable channels and local stations have an annoying tendency to oversell any hint of severe weather. On the other hand, the cancellation of hundreds of flights due to this maintenance crisis is well-documented, easily verifiable and not subject to shifting wind patterns.

Marianne Paskowski:


The other thing is cable news nets have a lot of air time to fill, so they keep running the stuff all day.

In this case, I think it was warranted, as the cancellations increased over the course of the day.

Even CNBC jumped into the fray, running charts on how the airline's stock dipped 10 percent today.

Good to hear from you,

Roger K.:

I was one of the "lucky" folks who was stranded by American's problems. I was attempting to return home to Tampa from the Final Four in San Antonio. The lines at the airport were huge and my 9 year old son and I had to sit at the airport for 8 hours before finally going standby on Continental. I had not been watching the news and so did not know about the problem until I got to the airport. I wished that I had been watching as I might have been able to spend the time sitting by the pool at my hotel rather than in the airport.

Marianne Paskowski:

Just the luck of the draw. I can't tell you how many horrific business flying experiences I've had. In route to the airport, I always listen to the radio and no longer trust those "no delays reported" at the tri-state's three airports, only to get there and see the departure board riddled with dozens of canceled flights.

Sorry you had a bummer of a trip back.


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