US rail and air service are largely back to normal now after the disruption of Hurricane Irene, but in its anry wake some US observers are questioning the level of media coverage she got.
Was Hurricane Irene, which was downgraded to a tropical storm on Sunday, hyped out of all proportion?
-¬---Was all the fuss just plain panic prompted by the US media?-¬~ a commentator said in the New York Times, which noted that the hurricane ended up -¬---falling far short of the historic disaster that many people had feared-¬~.
There certainly was serious damage from the storm. It led to the deaths of at least 40 people in 11 states, according to the AP.
At one time, 3.3 million East Coast residents were without power, according to Reuters, down from a high of more than 5 million.
Estimated damages ranged from $7 billion to $13 billion in an ABC News report. It was among the costliest disasters in US history.
But not everyone agreed.
-¬---Someone has to say it: cable news was utterly swept away by the notion that Irene would turn out to be Armageddon,-¬~ The Daily Beast-¬™s Howard Kurtz wrote.
-¬---National news organisations morphed into local eyewitness-news operations, going wall to wall for days with dire warnings about what would turn out to be a Category 1 hurricane, the lowest possible ranking.-¬~
But on the other hand, journalist Chris Mooney, writing for DeSmogBlog, argued that a failure to explore worst-case scenarios would have been -¬---downright dangerous-¬~.
Others expressed the same sentiment.
-¬---Hype on,-¬~ said a Philadelphia Daily News editorial. -¬---We-¬™d rather be over-prepared...as for the back-to-back round-the-clock coverage of Irene and the warnings about its catastrophic potential, we wonder: What else do you do about a hurricane described as the -¬Ë-size of Europe-¬™ as it heads toward densely packed cities?-¬~
Hurricanes are obviously serious business and have the capacity to cause billions of dollars in damages and kill many people. It-¬™s also unusual for a hurricane to hit the more populous Northeast region of the US.
Some commentators say the coverage was too much wall-to-wall, but the Times researcher Nate Silver said it -¬---received only the 13th most media coverage among Atlantic hurricanes since 1980-¬~.
Hurricane Gustav three years ago had as much coverage and it was not devastating, by way of comparison.
-¬---It wasn-¬™t the worse-case scenario...but I don-¬™t see how you dismiss it as hype,-¬~ Silver wrote.
By David Wilkening, TravelMole US
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Thursday, September 1, 2011