I was definitely hasty this weekend, when I blogged that the media overplayed the impact of the bad weather. They went a bit heavy on the blame game (as always), but things have definitely got worse since then, with today seeing the heaviest day’s snowfall in decades in some areas. Christmas plans have now been wrecked for many.
Having listened to the news, seen and heard from people about how ‘we’ are coping, there are two communication-related issues that hit home like a dose of frostbite.
Today began with radio reports of ‘black Friday’, fuelled by fears of mass disorder and boozed-up Christmas parties tonight. Black Friday was quickly lost in a blizzard of snow stories, as bad weather moved south across Britain.
Cue stories of Christmas travel plans in ruin (isn’t it still a week away?). Before you knew it, we were almost in the grip of a national ‘panic buying’ frenzy, previously reported with gusto by the Daily Express here, here – and here.
Local authority and highways comms teams needed to get into work today to deliver vitally important information to colleagues and travellers about the accessibility of roads, schools and other public services that people rely on.
The message from the Government was one of common sense: if it’s snowing heavily and you don’t need to make the trip, it may be better to stay at home for the day.
If only the media was as level-headed about the weather. After all, things could always be worse; check out the video below after about 3.30 mins.
NB: it seems that events since I wrote this post have made me appear hasty in accusing the media of going OTT. Things have got worse for a lot more people, but my main point about the apocalyptic tone of the coverage (with the BBC saying last night that ‘millions’ of journeys had been devastated) still stands.