TV stations in Washington dispensed with regular programming Wednesday afternoon to cover the blizzard blanketing a region already reeling from last weekend’s major snowstorm.
The National Association of Broadcasters has frequently argued that local broadcasters’ trump card among the multiplying media platforms is their connection and responsiveness to the community.
That was certainly in evidence Wednesday, with weather anchors taking center stage and reporters camped out on overpasses and side streets, or on the move with emergency vehicles to survey the conditions. Then there were the viewer-submitted photos and videos that have are increasingly being woven into the fabric (in this case ice-encrusted wool) of local storm coverage.
But that local knowledge and experience was evident not only in the wall-to-wall coverage–WRC coverage drew some on-air praise from Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski, for example–and warnings about road and rooftop snow hazards, but in the warnings to folks that their soap operas would have to be preempted for the potentially life-saving newscasts.
Historically, even breaking news coverage of momentous events is usually insufficient to justify the interruption of some viewers’ monitoring of a minor character’s recovery from a coma or affair with the sister of another minor character’s illegitimate half brother everyone thought had died in a suspicious house fire years before.
WJLA, for example, advised those viewers that it would air the shows in the overnight hours (All My Children at 1 a.m.; One Life To Live at 2, and General Hospital at 3). CBS affilate WUSA pointed out that they could be accessed within 24 hours online at cbs.com.