07 January 2010

An Open Letter to Milwaukee TV News Stations

Dear Milwaukee TV news stations,

I love Milwaukee. I really do. I've lived here for 8 1/2 years now and I've realized something: Like most of the rest of Wisconsin (and half of the country), IT SNOWS HERE. You seem to be the only people in the city who are surprised by this time and time again. Why you find the need to begin your broadcast day 3 hours early, or stand outside in the snow and tell people it's snowing never ceases to amaze me.

Though I'm sure a rare breed does somewhere exist, I can't think of anyone that I know personally who wakes up with you at 3 a.m. to watch you stand outside in the snow and tell people it's snowing. And though I know some folks are less fortunate than I, the vast majority of us have windows in our homes, and at the very least have doors that we can walk out of to assess the weather situations ourselves (should we so desire).

Now, I'm not saying that it's not helpful to know how much snow we may expect, or even when the snow will start and end, or where the heaviest snow will occur. This information is all good and helpful and - wait for it - can be relayed in less than 5 minutes. This leaves you with another 25 minutes (well, 20 after commercials are removed) of your broadcast time to tell us about other news. Believe it or not, there are still things happening in other parts of the state/country/world, even when there's snow in Milwaukee.

Regarding our city's snow removal efforts, I'm curious: Will the snow not be plowed if you don't tell us that 100+ pieces of snow removal equipment are being readied by the county? Will the salt not be applied to the streets if you don't tell us how many tons of it they are expected to use over the next 24 hours? Is there some innate fear that we will all be snowed in to our houses and be forced to dig a tunnel to the local grocery store for rations if you don't report that snow plow blades are being affixed to garbage trucks to aid in digging us out of this latest snow disaster?

What's next, "Sun Watch," a segment where someone sits on the shores of Lake Michigan and waits for the sun to rise each day? If you don't have a cameraman out there getting some "B" roll, will Milwaukee still be warmed by the rays of the sun? Perhaps we can find a flower blossoming somewhere in the spring and go on "Daisy Watch" for a week and talk day and night about when it might open and how it might affect our lives - and whether or not school will be canceled the next day because of it.

And so, dear Milwaukee TV news stations, I leave you with this simple request: You can tell us that it will snow. You can tell us when and how much to expect. But don't dedicate every waking moment to it. Don't dedicate 24 of your precious 25 minutes of evening news to coverage of something that occurs 10+ times per year in our dear city. You're instilling pandemic-like fear on the people of Milwaukee every time you cut in to our programs 'already in progress' to tell us that, just like when you cut in 25 minutes ago, it's still snowing. And I hate to break it to you, but there's not much you or I can do to stop it. So maybe we should just let it happen, and perhaps find something else to talk about. Isn't there a water-skiing squirrel somewhere that you can air? Or how about some in-depth analysis on what exactly is going on in Yemen? (I'm pretty sure the Yemen situation will still be around long after all the snow melts.)

Oh yeah... the snow will melt.


  1. There is a great solution to your consternation.

    The off switch on your TV.

  2. Larissa, I heart you for this. This and jam.

    Anon, she isn't complaining that she has to hear it. She's complaining that more important news is getting pushed out of the way. Ignoring it isn't going to fix that.

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  4. Hater! Haha I'm in the snow business, so I soak up all I can learn about it, even if it cuts into Maury! I have learned that you can never trust TV news' weather when it comes to snow because they always, always overestimate snowfalls to get attention (and ratings).

  5. Nicholas,

    Thanks for your response. As a snowboarder myself, I'm generally an avid fan of excessive amounts of snow, but I hate having my heart broken time and time again with predictions of 12 - 18 inches of snow in a day, only to realize that we get less than 2. It just hurts my soul to have 4 days of buildup and "Weather Watch" only to be disappointed in the end. Think of it like when you were a kid and all you really wanted for your birthday was a brand new shiny Hula Hoop and all you got was a pair of socks. I don't think anyone trusts the TV news, and it's time the networks realize it!