This Won’t Go Untold: We’ve Made Some Excellent Word Choices While Covering The Storms

We’ve watched, read and listened with deep respect and appreciation as colleagues have gone into dangerous and difficult situations in Texas and Florida the past two weeks. Meanwhile, others have put in even longer hours than usual to get that fine reporting ready for broadcast and the Web. Many thanks to all.

Embedded within the stories have been key words, well-turned phrases and simple explanations that are worth pointing out. Here are some examples:

- Leila Fadel, using an appropriately sensitive way to describe someone’s medical condition: “They spent the storm in a shelter to make sure they could care for Matthew’s sister, who lives with cerebral palsy.”

- Nate Rott, choosing three words — “still drying out” — that say much more than just “recovering”: “Earlier this week, there were even concerns that the Federal Emergency Management Agency would run out of money just as Irma is forecast to make landfall in South Florida. A $15 billion disaster relief package, passed Friday by Congress and signed by President Trump, has quelled those concerns. But it does little for the on-the-ground crews that are still drying out from a massive response to Hurricane Harvey just a couple of weeks ago.”

- Chris Joyce, explaining in plain English how climate change exacerbates hurricanes: “Heat drives storms. The more heat you have, the bigger storms you have. What happens is hot water creates water vapor. You know, a cup of coffee — it’s got vapor coming off it. So the water vapor rises. You get convection. It creates these circulating winds. And that’s what creates the conditions for a hurricane. … Hurricanes feed off of this fuel. And the hotter the oceans, the more fuel you’ll get for the hurricane.”

- Kirk Siegler, avoiding the almost always misused word “countless”: There are, he said, “an untold number of downed trees and power lines” across the Keys.

- Camila Domonoske, telling readers a lot  in just a few words about one elderly man’s feelings about not being able to get home: ” ‘It’s over. We made it out,’ Ward said, with an unhappy laugh that verged on tears. ‘But we can’t get out.’ ”

- Adrian Florido, describing Hurricane Harvey’s impact on one vulnerable community: “Houston is home to some 600,000 immigrants without legal status — 1 in 10 Houstonians does not possess the right to live in the U.S. — and in the storm’s aftermath, many of them now find themselves teetering on the edge of destitution.”

- Melissa Block, using short, declarative sentences to bring home some key points: “Now, as hurricane Irma approaches Florida, the Houstonians are talking with the restaurant community there, sharing what they’ve learned from Harvey. Organize as much as you can ahead of time. Line up kitchens and transport and volunteers. Social media will be your best friend. Above all, don’t wait.”

We could go on, and more examples will turn up in coming days. Thanks.

(“Memmos;” Sept. 12, 2017)

September 12, 2017

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