Everyone knows hurricanes are lucrative for the news media. But most people don’t know: For a brief few days after the storm, you can experience the news like it existed 25 years ago.
Right now, I’m in that sweet spot here in South Florida…
• I have power but no Internet.
• My cell phone works slowly if at at all, but my landline (which I keep for just this purpose) is flawless.
• I’m still a subscriber to a print newspaper, which showed up on my branch-strewn driveway less than 24 hours after the storm – before I could even clear the debris.
• Cable TV is out, but I can watch broadcast news with an old-fashioned antenna.
• Everyone is listening to AM/FM radio in their cars and on portable radios.
It’s all so 1992. And it reminds me: Life really sucked back then…
Old-school news is like a cassette player with a broken fast-forward button.
It’s so damned inefficient to listen to local TV and radio, waiting for the untalented talent to finally announce some tidbit that applies to your location. You hear a lot of this from the frustrated listeners and viewers around you: “Hey, shut up! I think they’re talking about our boiled-water order!”
If you miss that exact moment, you must wait till the next day’s newspaper, then flip through it looking for incomplete references to your city among the dozen or more your ‘”local paper” covers.
The sad truth is, local news wasn’t all that local a quarter-century ago.
Without instant access to news, rumors thrive – the “fake news” of the pre-Internet era.
As I waited in the checkout line at the only open grocery store, the woman ahead of me insisted sewage had seeped into the tap water. She warned us all not to even turn on the faucets.
She was full of shit, the water wasn’t. But I couldn’t verify that until I called a county hotline set up just for the purpose of squashing rumors – since the media can no longer do that fast enough.
I can’t wait to return to the future. Trust me on this: When cranky old journalists lament the good old days, those days were only good for them.