Posted by: martinworster | February 24, 2009

149. SNOW BLANKET MEDIA COVERAGE

copy-of-_dsc0025_exposureI’ve just returned from England where we had the heaviest snow storms for twenty years and it was absolutely magical. In fact the night the snow first hit I was returning from Chamonix in the French Alps and my plane was delayed and diverted from landing at Luton to Birmingham. Luckily my brother came and picked me up in a Range Rover – the best fresh trax of the trip and I get them on the ride home from the airport in England.

It was gorgeous, lovely snow and lots of it. Not the crappy stuff we usually get in England that lasts for three hours and is basically brown slush. Global warming? This was proper gear – with snow drifts, a proper crunch under foot, tree tops covered, branches bending under the weight. Walking around the village of Ridge where my parents live I felt liked I walked into an interactive Christmas card. Robins hopped around looking for food on authentic yueltide logs. A lonely oak sprouted magically from the middle of a white carpeted field. A fluffy pillow of flakes sat a top the red telephone booth. And all around, that lovely deafening silence, brought on by the sound absorbing qualities of lots of snow. I’m getting goose bumps right now as a relive these memories. Britain came to a standstill – no trains, airports closed, no buses, tubes, schools closed, even central London looked like a winter wonderland, car free and deserted.

Then, instead of heralding these once in a lifetime snow conditions the media start to put a massive poop on the occasion. First they talk about the damage to the economy from so many people off work and the affect it will have on business. Coming to a standstill will cost us billions in lost revenues. Who cares? Not any kid under twenty who has never seen snow like this and spent the day sledging on any available incline. Not office workers who are chained to their desks eight hours every day.

Then of course the media criticises why so many schools are closed. It’s a non-story. It’s not safe to have schools open in those conditions, not to mention the fact that staff and pupils probably can’t even get to school. After this the media criticises the conditions of the roads and the fact that a lot of local authorities were running out of grit. I’m not surprised they ran out. How can you seriously be prepared for extreme weather conditions like this? Another non-story. And finally, of course, in the age of dumbed down 24 hour rolling news with too much time to fill, there’s all those ceaseless phone ins and experts in their fields (school governors, local council spokespersons) invited in to tirelessly debate the non-stories.

Why can’t the media just leave it alone? They were beautiful conditions, loads of kids really enjoyed themselves and even though business suffered a lot of people were probably happy to have a few extra days off. The gap between the reality of what is happening in the world and how the media reports it has probably never been bigger.

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Ridge, Hertfordshire, Feb 1st 2009

Ridge, Hertfordshire, Feb 1st 2009

Ridge Village Church

Ridge Village Church

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