Journalism

TV Meteorologist Gets Death Threats Over Storm Coverage

An Atlanta meteorologist says she received death threats from angry viewers who said they were missing Masters coverage over a tornado.

I learned a long time ago not to say, “I’ve heard it all.” Every time I think I might have, a story like this pops up. A TV meteorologist posted on Facebook about having received death threats over the weekend.

Why? Her “crime” was warning people that a tornado had possibly formed in the station’s viewing area.

The problem was that the said tornado threat had the unfortunate timing to occur as the Masters was airing.

Silly severe weather. Silly atmosphere. Silly Mother Nature.

Surely they could get their act together and do a better job of planning when they’d drop a devastating storm on innocent people and threaten lives. Severe weather during curling coverage would make so much sense, after all.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Sunday that the CBS station’s meteorologist there posted about the incident on Twitter. And she didn’t mince words about how she felt:

To those sending her the death threats, she wrote: “You wouldn’t be saying a damn thing if a tornado was ravaging your home this afternoon. Lives are more important than 5 minutes of golf.”

I’ve worked in television for a long, long time. Good luck trying to explain that to a sports fan. Once during storm coverage during a football game, a local attorney sent us a nasty Facebook message claiming he’d never let us know of any big, high-profile cases his firm was working on because we were interrupting the game he wanted to see. (Said attorney wasn’t a partner and we’ve heard about cases they’ve been involved in despite his threat.)

Dorsey’s tweet was retweeted nearly 800 times and liked more than 7,000 times. Many tweeted support to the decision to interrupt golf to cover a possible tornado. After all, earlier in the day, the same system did drop a tornado on neighboring Alabama.

One even said, “As a person who’s home was affected by a tornado a few years ago (back yard damage only), you’re absolutely correct! Thanks to all the weather people that keep people informed in very dangerous situations. Keep up the good work!”

Another added, “This is ridiculous! People are selfish, asshats! That give two craps about a golf game that ended hours earlier, over human lives! If the Tornado was in their backyard they would want to know! I am a retired Marine/Police Officer come threaten me!”

But this might have been my favorite comment: “I’m not surprised. People think life is Burger King. They think it should always be their way. Not sure how people like that handle crisis or other things. It’s not the end of the world. Adjust or absorb.”

Yes, too many people think their life — and their life only — is Burger King.

When lives are potentially in danger, a television station’s weather team is going to interrupt programming. It’s not because they like doing so; it’s because they have a responsibility to serve their community as mandated by the Federal Communications Commission.

It’s a shame it comes to this. But sometimes, no good deed goes unpunished.

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 28 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.