Journalist can care about viewers but not lose own’s well-being

Angie Lassman is a meteorologist for NBC 6 South Florida and has covered many hurricanes for her viewers. Wiki photo

Tori Collins | Reporter/Intern | SizingUpTheSouth.com

Journalists track and monitor natural disasters to inform people if their lives might be in danger, all while sacrificing their own well-being. Broadcast Meteorologist at NBC 6 South Florida, Angie Lassman shares her experience of providing sometimes difficult coverage of hurricanes, including Hurricane Dorian. 

Lassman has covered hurricanes before as a meteorologist, however, Hurricane Dorian is the third that has directly impacted her viewing area of South Florida. She said she strives to separate her personal feelings about the possible fatalities and carnage that hurricanes can cause. Her ongoing goal is to adhere to the viewers who depend upon Lassman so they can stay informed. 

“Compartmentalization is key in this industry,” Lassman said in a Twitter direct message.

“You have to be able to put aside the details on death and destruction and still do your job, because at the end of the day people need you to.”

Angie Lassman, Meteorologist for NBC 6 South Florida

Covering hurricanes is hard from beginning to end. The difficulty ranges from tracking the hurricane in its rawest form, for example, identifying and in categorizing the storm. Next, a meteorologist views the actual photos and videos of the destruction once the hurricane makes landfall.

“Before [the hurricane], you have a deep level of understanding the science and the wrath of what is to come; you think about the people that will be affected.” said Lassman in the Twitter direct message.

“You put yourself in their shoes.”

Angie Lassman

“During [the hurricane], it’s a high intensity environment and a mad dash to get people the latest and more pertinent information. You start to see the first images and videos but have to keep doing your job,” she said.

Angie Lassman

After the hurricane passes, and the destruction is in full view, Lassman said she is dedicated to evaluating her work and seeking information on how she might be more prepared for her viewers’ needs for the next possible disaster. 

“Then after [the hurricane], our job is done and now you just have to watch as the devastation is broadcasted to the world, and ultimately try to learn something from this event so more lives can be saved next time,” Lassman said in a Twitter direct message.  

This awareness as a meteorologist can help develop a personal connection between a journalist and audience members. The readers and viewers, especially when a major hurricane threatens their homes and businesses, might be seeking some kind of comfort from the person behind the computer, or on the screen or radio.

“They need to realize the situation, understand the impacts and heed the warnings. All of that information comes from us,” Lassman said in a Twitter direct message.

“People turn to their apps a lot these days but in times like Dorian, they turn on their TV and want a real person that they trust and know is credentialed to give them the information.”

Angie Lassman

With this earned trust, journalists know that their hurricane reporting isn’t the easiest job to do.

“I’m not going to lie. It’s hard. Really hard,” Lassman said in a Twitter direct message. “It’s massively difficult but people’s lives depend on it and we care about them, so we keep doing it.” 

Tori Collins

Tori Collins is a student at Georgia State University studying journalism. She transferred from Georgia Southern University in May 2019. Ga. ToriCollinsus@gmail.com

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