Weather coverage

If you look at Fox, CBS or NBC today you’ll see the opening games of the NFL season, played in glorious sunshine on pretty green fields, with thousands of people in the stands. If you look at cable Fox, CNN and MSNBC you’ll see reporters out in the streets in various cities in Florida, all of them being battered by wind and rain.

The dissonance is remarkable.

This lady has a complaint about the coverage. I’m sure she understands all about “news you can use” aimed at the largest number of viewers, but she’s a native of the US Virgin Islands, and from her home in Houston she saw this:

On every channel and news site I turned to, the coverage of Hurricane Irma seemed to be directly correlated to its projected impact on the state of Florida, with little to no mention of the dozens of Caribbean islands the storm would surely devastate days before affecting the state — including the U.S Virgin Islands and the unincorporated U.S territory of Puerto Rico. I read through report after report and watched multiple videos where statements like “There is no immediate threat to the U.S. until it nears Florida” were made.

I was not the only one watching. More than 100,000 U.S citizens in the U.S Virgin Islands and 3.4 million more in Puerto Rico watched as numerous newscasts practically dismissed the impact this category 5 hurricane was sure to cause to our beloved homes.

This was not the first time we had witnessed our dismissal during hurricanes. Of the dozens I’ve experienced in my lifetime, many have gone by with little to no mention of our territory via national media. It always begins and ends the same way. And yet with limited local media outlets and sources, residents relied on mainland U.S. news sources to provide them with regular updates on what to expect of Irma. Instead, they were forced to listen to the familiar reports of concern for the continental United States hundreds of miles away.

She’s got a point. The networks can all make the excuse that they have limited resources and can’t put reporters on every flyspeck of an island, but as Ms. Quiñones says, two of those flyspecks are American territories.

I’ve seen this before. I can’t even count the number of times there’s been a big story in Hawai’i that’s been covered by the networks from Los Angeles or even NYC. The media needs to figure out that a lot of Americans live beyond the North American border and do a better job of providing news to them. In this case the people in the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico surely needed more and better information than they were getting from the big networks. That they didn’t get it makes the networks and big cable nets look insular at best and uncaring at worst.