I know there are all sorts of digital ways to get weather, traffic and news information on stormy winter mornings. And I know the number of people commuting to work has dropped drastically as we’ve changed our ways of doing business during the pandemic. But there is still something informative and reassuring about turning on your TV in the morning amid the uncertainty of bad weather and seeing meteorologists standing in front of weather maps and a crew of familiar local correspondents reporting from around the area.
No one on Baltimore TV has been doing more of that, according to the morning news I have seen in recent weeks, than WBFF (Channel 45), the Sinclair-owned Fox affiliate here.
I came to that realization this morning as I watched Elijah Westbrook reporting from Mt. Vernon on what the streets and sidewalks looked and felt like under an icy mix of freezing rain and snow. I walked past the spot where he stood hundreds of times when the Sun newsroom was located nearby and I thought how much his report could be helping others who work and live in that area today as they decide if they can make it to the store, bus stop or their drive to a medical appointment.
Mr. Westbrook not only offered hard information about the safety conditions, he also talked about a city ordinance that lays out duties and penalties for those citizens and businesses failing to keep public walkways in front of their properties clear. I did not know about the fines.
WBFF has more time for local news in the mornings because it does not have a network show like WJZ, WBAL or WMAR that it is contracted to carry, such as the “Today Show” or “Good Morning America.” But the effort I am seeing from WBFF this winter goes well beyond just filling air time. It is putting resources out there to serve viewers.
And I will tell you something else, there is a sense of belonging to a city and community when you see this kind of coverage. You don’t feel you are in it alone when bad weather disrupts your daily routine.
David Zurawik is The Baltimore Sun’s media critic. Email: email@example.com; Twitter: @davidzurawik