The people who spend a great deal of time with me – mainly my family and co-workers – are probably sick of my over-the-top rants about topics and news items that likely do not concern them. But I tell them anyway.
But my most recent rant, I believe, is worth some attention.
Last week, Thursday night storms were expected to trample over the state and, being the want-to-be weatherman that I am, my eyes were glued to television channels, Twitter feeds and the sky.
I love storms. Holly, though, is throwing enough pillows and bedding into the bathtub at the mere mention of severe weather to stock a hotel. When our phones starting going off (Manchester Times text alerts) at 10 p.m. alerting of a tornado warning in Coffee County I changed my television to one of the local Nashville stations. After all, what better place to get localized storm tracking?
What I found led to one of those rants that, I’m pretty sure, made Holly hope a tornado would come along and shut me up.
One channel, after a couple of minutes mind you, did switch to show Coffee County on the radar. After a quick mention that this storm, with a strong indication of rotation, would be tracking over the middle of the county they switched back to showing viewer-submitted photos. What else do I see but a picture of a cat watching TV.
Change the channel and what do I find? An in-depth explanation on how to download a mobile app.
Once the storms moved well East of Nashville, the focus of those stations turned to the damage in that area or, for one station, how hard the rain was still falling in Nashville despite the depreciated threat of severe weather there.
Meanwhile, down in Coffee County, an EF-1 tornado touched down in the southeastern part of the county and stayed on the ground for 1.2 miles. Thankfully, no injuries were reported.
I took the time Friday morning to email some of these TV stations and, in my kindest words, express my disappointment in the severe weather coverage for Coffee County. After all, as I mentioned to them, they are quick to dispatch a news crew to Coffee County for a meth lab, crime ring, pill mill or some other story that paints our town in a negative light.
I do understand the need and purpose of pursuing these stories isn’t simply to “make us look bad” but one could argue that is the perception provided by these media outlets by covering these stories yet offering, at best, token effort during a severe-weather event while giving airtime for shameless self-promotions.
I suspect, as I explained in my emails, that the decision-making process during live weather coverage is excruciating.
But since when did cats watching TV become more important than the human viewers of the cat’s favorite channel?
-Josh Peterson is the editor of the Manchester Times. He is a Tennessee Press Association award-winning writer and photographer. His column, “From the editor’s desk” won TPA first-place honors for best personal humor column. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 931-728-7577 ext. 105. Follow him on Twitter @joshpeterson29