Today’s cuppa: Gevalia Signature Crema coffee from the Tassimo

John-Roberts-FNC-Kill-Devil-Hills.jpgAs Hurricane Irene pounds the East Coast, a lot of people (especially the sensible ones) headed for the high ground. But TV reporters don’t have that luxury, if their networks plan to report to viewers exactly what’s happening on the ground.

One of those reporters is Fox News Channel’s senior national correspondent John Roberts, based in Atlanta, Ga., who is reporting from Kill Devil Hills on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, right in the path of the hurricane.

While cell service is spotty, Roberts was able to answer some email questions from HCTV on the purpose and experience of braving the teeth of the storm (questions in bold):

Q: What is the value of having a correspondent right in the
heart of the storm?

A: It’s similar to having a
correspondent in a war zone. You need someone there to report on the
situation on the ground.  What the storm looks like — how people are
coping —  the level of damage,
etc. The Outer Banks is a very popular spot.  Hundreds of thousands
of Americans travel there every week for vacation. When a storm hits,
their vacations are interrupted. They’re curious about an area they know
and want to see what’s happening.

In a story like Katrina, we were on the ground when the storm hit, and were
able to report on the breaching of levees within a couple of hours of it
happening. If crews had waited until after the storm to come into town, an
entire piece of that story would have been lost.

Now, I don’t believe you have to go play in the surf to illustrate a storm. I
think it tells the story itself. And I’m torn about doing reports that have us
blowing around in the wind. I’m not sure viewers get a whole lot from that,
though they do like to see their correspondents hard at work. It also, of
course, provides for more than a few comical moments.


Q: At what point or points have you
feared for your own safety or that of your crew?


A: I have never feared for my safety
during a storm. We take enough precautions that we stay pretty
safe. But as Katrina was heading toward Louisiana as a Category 5 storm, I
did pause for a moment and say “What the hell am I doing here again?


Q: How do you manage to deliver the
news while being buffeted and rained on?


A: It’s like playing golf at the
British Open. You learn to love it.


Why Kill Devil Hills in North Carolina?


A: There’s a sense of history here,
with the Wright Brothers and all that. It’s also a very popular tourist
destination. The mayor, Ray Sturza is a very accommodating fellow, and the
people at Shutters On the Banks turned their entire hotel over to us


Walk us through the preparation for doing a live hit on the run during a storm.


A: You basically have all the facts
and figures on the storm, all the knowledge you have acquired over years of
covering storms and a few colorful moments that you can relate to the
audience. Other than having a couple of pieces of sound that I might want
to use, I really never go into a shot with much of a plan. I just sort of let
it evolve organically.

Q: Are you using social media to get
your message out during the storm?

A: I’m tweeting furiously..! (At @johnrobertsFox)

Q: Should the government spend money to rescue people who are aware of
evacuation procedures and ignore them?

A: In the same way that hospitals can’t turn away the sick because they
don’t have insurance, local authorities really don’t have much of a
choice. But they — and we — can try to get the word out to the best of
our ability that it’s a wise idea to evacuate when officials tell you to.

Here’s a video clip of Roberts’ coverage from early Saturday morning, Aug. 27: