Television Coverage of Cyclone – Phailin

As 900,000 people were being moved out of the Cyclone’s path…. hundreds of media professionals were moving into it.  Gopalpur, were the eye of the storm hit land also had many journalists braving the weather and nature’s fury. storm

Each TV Reporter was trying to out do the other, highlighting the fall out of what was initially believed to be a super cyclone.  Live coverage of the storm was supposed to be an media event which would get good audience rating.  One could see drenched reporters, journalists covered in rain coats and wind cheaters, braving high speed winds, standing and delivering their piece to cameras. At the time of landfall wind speeds were in the range of 200 kms / hour.

However, the cyclone’s real fury could not be covered as it was unfolding. Reason, the storm hit late night and without power the streets could not be lit properly for coverage.  When the trees were falling, tin sheds were flying, vehicles were being turned turtle, television cameras were not capture the images properly. The aftermath was covered in the morning. The live coverage hence, were not as powerful as the channels would have wanted.  It was of course commendable to note that the O B Vans remained connected, despite the breakage of normal power and communication links.

Adequate precautions taken by the authorities and the massive evacuation meant that lesser lives were lost. No life lost would have been ideal, but  23 dead (17 as per govt figures) were  in sharp contrast to 10,000 killed in 1999 when Cyclone hit the same state, Odisha, India.

So if the evacuation and precautions were the hero this time, wasn’t there a need to cover this aspect in-depth? I am left wondering!

Image courtesy of Jennifer Ellison at