There are no snow days in journalism.
Or in most jobs. Telecommuting has never been easier or more in vogue, but most of us still have to slip, slide and shuffle our way to work when the weather says stay home. Unless you’re a teacher or a government employee, work never gets canceled.
I’m not bitter about that. Today, most schools were either closed or announcing early dismissals by 9 a.m. I remind those who use any excuse to trash professional educators that many of them went to work this morning. The decision to call it a day rests with administrators. Public schools are required to provide 180 days of instruction per school year. Meeting that standard while minding the safety of students and employees isn’t easy.
I serve as editor for a couple hours each morning. Today I had the dubious duty of assigning a weather story to a veteran reporter. This is like dropping a dead bird on someone’s desk and saying, “Do something with this.”
Most reporters recoil from weather stories. Veterans loathe them, mostly because they’ve written piles of them over the years. Finding a fresh angle on a natural event that’s been happening since before humans walked upright can be a real drag. There is nothing most reporters find more boring than a weather story (except maybe a blog about weather stories).
And yet everyone seems to read them, even those who rant about our collective obsession with weather.
“It’s winter! ” they gripe.”This is Northeast Pennsylvania! It snows here! Get over it!”
These rants usually appear in the comments section under a weather story at thetimes-tribune.com. Today’s newspaper is packed with news that didn’t fall from the sky, but at noon, the snow story was the fifth-most read and climbing.
Why? My guess is that weather is one of the few things in life beyond our control. Snow falls on us all. Rain, too. The fact that we can’t change it is a welcome distraction from the bigger things we could fix if only we could muster the courage and care to act.
Snow and ice melt under sunlight. So do a lot of other problems, if you’re willing to turn up the heat.