Baltimore reporters do some fine TV storytelling on Sandy

Lowell Melser report highlights risk in bearing witness to storm

  • WBAL reporter Lowell Melser in the storm Monday night in Ocean City as a piece of metal comes flying toward him
WBAL reporter Lowell Melser in the storm Monday night in Ocean… (Screen grab courtesy on…)
October 30, 2012|By David Zurawik | The Baltimore Sun

After 14 hours of watching Sandy storm coverage, I am convinced that no one deserves more praise than the reporters and camerapersons on the ground in places like Ocean City.

I know in these snarky, all-you-need-is-irony, postmodern times, lots of folks, including some journalists who should know better, like to make fun of TV reporters standing in high winds and driving rain or snow to report on a storm. I could not disagree more.

The image of a correspondent being pounded by the elements is as crystal-clear an objective correlative for the core role of journalism as I can imagine.

I want someone out there on the edge of the ocean and the tip of the storm bearing witness to the power of nature -- and reporting on the danger the storm portends for the rest of us back in our homes.

Yes, there are wall-to-wall fools and hotdogs working at TV stations. In fact, some might say there are far more of them than serious journalists. But I have not seen many hotdogs or fools out in the storm in my 14 hours of watching Baltimore TV coverage of the storm today. I've mainly seen hardworking folks trying to get the story their editors sent them out to get -- and doing it even as they get soaked by a cold, hard rain and brutal winds.

I have a screengrab up with this post of WBAL's Lowell Melser seconds before a long piece of what looked to be metallic siding came flying toward him and photographer Mac Finney on the streets of Ocean City Monday night. It happened at 7:53 p.m., and was a frightening moment. But Melser just went on with the story after taking a second or two to gather himself.

In fact, he was so intent on explaining the scene on the streets of an abandoned Ocean City, that he went over, picked up the chunk of metal and held it out for the camera and viewers to see.

And Deb Weiner, co-anchoring back in the studio, used the drama of what viewers had just witnessed to deftly make a larger point as they returned from Melser's report.

"And his live shot began with him saying there was little wind," she reminded viewers. Her point was how volatile the situation was and how quickly the wind could pick up and instantly change the game. 

Melser and Finney aren't the only ones who should feel proud of the work they are doing as journalists in this storm.

In an earlier post, I praised WBFF's Kathleen Cairns and her videographer (which I am still waiting for someone at Fox45 to name) for their superb work Monday morning in Ocean City. They captured the view from ground level of what it looked like, as waves surged over the banks toward high rise condos. No one did it better all day -- or so far tonight -- than that duo. But there were others.

Derek Valcourt has been doing excellent work all day and night in places like Woodberry under the JFX for WJZ.

I'll have more later, including a post on the outstanding work CNN has been doing up and down the East Coast today and night. Please stop back.

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