The Best and Worst of Local News Snow Coverage

It turned out to be a huge bust, but Philadelphia's local newscasts did not disappoint with their coverage of the snowstorm that wasn't.

“Be sure to warm up before shoveling. You can walk around, or march in place.”

This was actual advice, delivered by Action News, on Monday afternoon. It was part of a segment that warned viewers not to eat, drink coffee or smoke before shoveling. The madness that grips the local news during a snowstorm — or, in the case of Monday, the threat of a snowstorm that didn’t materialize — gives viewers some of the best television there is. I mean, Action News had a four-person team covering the weather.

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But 6 ABC was trumped by CBS 3:

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Yes, CBS 3 had eight (eight!) people with their eye on the storm. Meanwhile, Fox 29 ran ads announcing Good Day Philadelphia would start an hour earlier — even as ice and graphics threatened to swallow their anchors.

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On the 10 o’clock news last night, Fox 29’s Dave Schratweiser — who normally covers the mafia — had to sit in Atlantic City and report on the snow. But my favorite part of weather coverage is person-on-the-street interviews. Already a generally pointless staple of journalism, during weather events random interviews of pedestrians on the street become even more vapid than usual. And there are scores of them! It’s understandable these interviews are part of storm coverage, but they rarely offer any information.

I watched all four newscasts last night, and compiled a list of the best such interviews. Just look at what we learned!

  • “I’m just gonna stay home and play video games.” (Fox 29)
  • “I don’t look forward to shoveling tomorrow.” (Fox 29)
  • “It’s slippery.” (Fox 29)
  • “It’s wet. It’s cold. It’s January.” (Fox 29)
  • “I think we’re going to get three feet of snow.” (Fox 29)
  • “Getting ready.” (6 ABC)
  • “Stay home, and warm. And drink hot chocolate.” (6 ABC)
  • “I think I would like to see some snow on the ground.” (6 ABC)
  • “My flight was canceled yesterday. I got on an earlier flight.” (6 ABC)
  • “They towed my car. It totally slipped my mind that it was, you know, an emergency route on Broad Street.” (NBC 10)
  • “I think it’s the first snow, the first panic.” (NBC 10)
  • “They’re out of water.” (NBC 10)
  • “Unless you’re in Alaska, when do you ever get an opportunity to see 12 inches of snow come out of the sky on your boat?” (NBC 10)
  • “I just don’t know what to believe. Is it 18 inches or 30 inches?” (CBS 3)
  • “I’m just going to sit right here.” (CBS 3)
  • “Stay in. I’m kind of happy.” (CBS 3)
  • “Looks like there’s going to be a lot of snow. I’m pretty excited.” (CBS 3)
  • “I think this winter is going to be way worse than last winter.” (CBS 3)

Kudos to Action News’ Walter Perez, who found a man in Seaside Heights who was planning to surf tomorrow — delivering a unique soundbite among the noise.

Perhaps our local news should take a cue from cable networks, which were offering measured takes on the storm.

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Uh, perhaps not. Maybe they should just stick to interviewing passers-by.

Follow @dhm on Twitter.