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Why Jim Cantore and Hurricane Reporters in the Eye of the Storm Matter

By Tom Jones, writing for Poynter…

If the world can see what is happening, help is more likely to follow.

One of the most powerful storms to ever hit the U.S. — 16 years to the day that Hurricane Katrina hit the same part of the country — dramatically overtook the news on Sunday.

Right there in the middle of it was Jim Cantore. You know Cantore. He’s the Weather Channel meteorologist with a cult-like following for going, literally, into the storm. There’s a joke that really isn’t funny: If there’s nasty weather out there, the last person you want to see in your town is Jim Cantore.

And there he was on Sunday.

Wearing a baseball helmet (not a hat, a helmet) and rain gear, Cantore stood on Canal Street in New Orleans, shouldering against a driving rain and winds gusts of over 80 mph. Toppled and mangled garbage dumpsters were strewn around him. Shouting into a microphone, Cantore tried to describe the devastating power of the Category 4 hurricane. He looked like he might get blown down the alley at any second. There were few more haunting images than Cantore standing on a pitch-black street in downtown New Orleans on Sunday night as power was out everywhere around him.

In some ways, you might look at Cantore’s coverage as a cliche and possibly even reckless. And it’s something that all hurricane reporters replicate. We saw dozens of reporters doing it on Sunday.

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