Friday, May 19, 2006

Damn beavers

One need not look much further for the failings of television journalism than Thursday’s beaver dam “failure” in Greenfield. With reports of floodwaters cascading down Daniels Road and the National Weather Service issuing warnings, nearly every broadcast station cut in with the big panic. While the initial reporting varied from station to station, the message was clear and alarming: one of those dams everyone’s been talking about lately has burst and destruction is imminent; head for the hills.

Truth be known, beavers constructed the dams that broke. This is not to say that millions of gallons of water rushing through the rural areas of the county didn’t cause alarm or damage. But there’s a big difference between a beaver dam breaking and say, a breach of the Gilboa Dam in Schoharie County. And while one must marvel at the earthen and wooden structures created by nature’s furry little creatures, it’s a pretty far stretch to refer to any one of them as the Beaver Dam, as if someone had named it.

Suffice to say and despite the weather service specifically referring to the breached structure as a beaver dam, the networks broke into their broadcasts and largely misreported the event. As usual, it took print media to straighten things out the next day, leaving some initially confused as to which dam actually broke.

Even then, there were some interesting, if not humorous passages that made it into print, as the event was further dramatized by some. For instance, leave it to The Saratogian to quote the Saratoga Police calling into question why a beaver dam wasn’t identified and included in the city’s federal dam safety plan.

Breach or no breach, the event again highlights what is sometimes thrown into the mix of otherwise decent local reporting on the count of these beaver-brained network producers. Then again, beavers can build dams, which is a task that greatly eclipses the cognitive functioning of most television journalists.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Alger,

If that damn had been built by Bonacio Construction, and not some amphibious rodent, then we wouldn't have a problem in the first place. I am sorry to say that this is what happens when you don't use certified union labor. And how the hell did we get out-bid by a beaver in the first place!


Bonacio Inc.

3:43 PM  

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