The Fine Line Between Preparation And Panic With Hurricane Irma [Editorial]
If there's anything positive to take from both the path that Hurricane Irma has ravaged through the Caribbean and its impending arrival in or near Florida (at this point, it's looking most likely like "in"), it's the fact that there has been plenty of advance warning.
But that advance warning has been both absolutely imperative and scary at the same time.
We've known that a powerful hurricane has been making its way across the Atlantic for well over a week now, but the track of Irma was notoriously difficult to predict in the early going.
So where do you draw the line between preparing the public and panicking the public?
5 years ago, we knew that Superstorm Sandy was coming for a few days, and most heeded the warnings and evacuated. 40 died in the Garden State, but if we didn't have advance warning, the toll surely would have been much worse.
But with Irma, some have been more interested in sensationalism than responsible journalism.
I'm sorry, but tagging a terrifying photo of the storm slamming directly into the Northeast, one model out of literally dozens at that point a full week ahead of time with, "this is not a forecast" is nothing but sensationalism and an absolutely shameless attempt at getting more clicks (and of course advertising dollars).
With things like this, people don't read captions, they see dark reds and purples engulfing their home states.
This a topic that I haven't shied away from going off on before.
But at the same time, as we know all too well from Sandy, being prepared could mean the difference between life and death.
It is absolutely imperative that resources are available, people are (correctly) informed, and that we don't take this lightly.
We are in the business of getting information across, and many people depend on broadcasters to let them know what they need to worry about, plan for, and keep in mind, while at the same time not sensationalizing and causing panic.
In my opinion, the public trust is something that we live and die by in this business, and when some abuse that trust for the sake of clicks and ad revenue, it reflects badly on all of us. And that's shameful.
That being said, it's always better to be over prepared than caught off guard. You can get information on how local officials are making resources available if we need them by clicking here.
Up Next - Watch storm clouds gather over Huddy Park last month:
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of 92.7 WOBM, Townsquare Media, its employees, or advertisers.