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Friday, May 2, 2014

News Helicopters Are Stupid and Serve No Purpose

Posted by on Fri, May 2, 2014 at 12:50 PM

Some news chopper hovered over Capitol Hill last night until well after 11 o'clock. Based on Twitter, the helicopter disrupted more sleep patterns than any of the protest marches. Finally, presumably after the last eye-in-the-sky footage of some kids milling around in the street was delivered for the 11 o'clock news, the helicopter headed home.

It served as a reminder that news helicopters serve no useful purpose anymore. If TV news needs to show traffic jams or beautiful Seattle sunsets to their viewers, webcams are fucking everywhere. Further, webcams cost much less, they don't represent a frivolous waste of fossil fuels, and they're not as dangerous as helicopters are.

Television news channels won't ever admit to this, but the only real reason for news helicopters now is disaster porn. Helicopters hover above out-of-control fires, they track car chases in the hopes of a shootout or a suicide, they pan around riots, hoping for tear gas or property damage. They're noisy, and the oppressive rotor noise can add to the stress of an already-stressful situation. Maybe if enough people publicly recognize that news helicopters are nothing more than a waste of money and a public nuisance, news channels will give up on their helicopter fleets. It's time to ground the goddamned things, once and for all.


Comments (38) RSS

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And what's the deal with the kids who won't get off my lawn? What kind of society allows this?
Posted by GermanSausage on May 2, 2014 at 1:01 PM · Report this
Here are the relevant details surrounding the event. But here is the same event FROM THE FUCKIN SKYYYYYY!!!! You're flying! Sitting on your couch!! Wheeeeeeeee!
Posted by nullbull on May 2, 2014 at 1:04 PM · Report this
Kinison 3
The overhead helicopter used during the Port of Seattle protest (final protest of Occupy Seattle) proved to be useful in documenting everything the protesters threw at the cops.

Posted by Kinison on May 2, 2014 at 1:06 PM · Report this
I agree--the multiple choppers hovering over the hill all evening weren't warranted for what was going down yesterday. It was a nice evening, disrupted by constant chopper noise for what exactly? A few dozen 16 - 30 somethings yelling at cops and setting trash can fires?
Posted by carrma on May 2, 2014 at 1:07 PM · Report this
rob! 5
A good start would be making them a bigger and more expensive PITA to operate by forcing them to use general-aviation airports instead of downtown helipads.
Posted by rob! on May 2, 2014 at 1:07 PM · Report this
I thought city dwellers had no issues with loud noise late into the night, whether it's nightclubs or gunfire or helicopters. What are you, some suburbanite?
Posted by bigyaz on May 2, 2014 at 1:08 PM · Report this
Fnarf 7
I hate them, hate them, hate them.
Posted by Fnarf on May 2, 2014 at 1:09 PM · Report this
Kinison 8
Oh and helicopters were helpful in trying to track down the Cafe Racer shooter. Plenty of web cams, that the police don't have access to and even if they did, contain no time stamp information to use as archive footage should it be needed in a trial. With citizens forcing the shutdown of the police wireless mesh network, gone was their ability to easily add those web cams.
Posted by Kinison on May 2, 2014 at 1:14 PM · Report this
rob! 9
They are also of questionable utility in coordinating high-speed urban chases for police departments, as are the high-speed chases themselves.

I lived for a number of years near central San Diego, and police helicopters orbiting overhead were an almost daily (and nightly) delight, complete with high-powered spotlights occasionally sweeping past my windows. San Diego is built on a series of mesas cut by brush-filled ravines, so many surface streets dead-end at mesa edges. Crooks without extensive knowledge of the connecting streets will abandon their vehicles and run into the ravines; thus the copters hover overhead for an hour or more until ground teams capture their quarry or abandon the search.
Posted by rob! on May 2, 2014 at 1:16 PM · Report this
I am also not a fan. When Lindsay Lohan moved nearby, two to three news helicopters would arrive at 7 a.m. and hover above my neighborhood, seemingly stationary, for over an hour so they could follow her to her court appearances. Because that was vital, breaking news.
Posted by California on May 2, 2014 at 1:16 PM · Report this
"Television news channels won't ever admit to this, but the only real reason for news helicopters now is disaster porn."

Sure, but that's also the only reason people watch local news.
Posted by giffy on May 2, 2014 at 1:18 PM · Report this
SLL 12
See? Just one more reason to embrace drones. They'd do the same thing but barely be noticeable. ;-)
Posted by SLL on May 2, 2014 at 1:21 PM · Report this
DOUG. 13
Local TV news is a pile of shit. Their helicopters are diarrhea.
Posted by DOUG. on May 2, 2014 at 1:23 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 14
@13 for the Benghazi Take These Stupid Choppers Away win
Posted by Will in Seattle on May 2, 2014 at 1:26 PM · Report this
whine whine whine.

If you want a quiet neighborhood, why would you select cap hill?
Posted by kooshball on May 2, 2014 at 1:30 PM · Report this
Max Solomon 16
you may have missed it, Paul, being a Stranger journalist and all, but a news helicopter crashed a month and a half ago in a fiery explosion, killing 2, right next to the space needle.
Posted by Max Solomon on May 2, 2014 at 1:32 PM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 17
Based on Twitter...

OK, let me stop you right there.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn on May 2, 2014 at 1:38 PM · Report this
I moved to Seattle just before the WTO and had the good fortune of living right next to Virginia Mason that weekend. To this day I'm still a little unnerved by the sound of a helicopter that's just... hovering...
Posted by Chris B on May 2, 2014 at 1:46 PM · Report this
Pope Peabrain 19
It's like have a fly buzzing in your ear. Irritating as fuck.
Posted by Pope Peabrain on May 2, 2014 at 1:51 PM · Report this
Slog's War On Flying Machines continues...
Posted by unpaid reader on May 2, 2014 at 1:51 PM · Report this
TVDinner 21
@18: I share your WTO helicopter trauma. Hasn't been the same for me since then, either. Weird, huh?
Posted by TVDinner http:// on May 2, 2014 at 2:02 PM · Report this
JonnoN 22
Posted by JonnoN on May 2, 2014 at 2:06 PM · Report this
fletc3her 23
@16 Is that meant to be a pro-helicopter statement?
Posted by fletc3her on May 2, 2014 at 2:23 PM · Report this
Twilight Sparkle 24
I read a comment on KIRO's website last night by a retired journalist accusing them of committing the cardinal sin in journalism of "creating the story." I couldn't agree more.
Posted by Twilight Sparkle on May 2, 2014 at 2:28 PM · Report this
I think there's only one news chopper flying here at present. The other chopper you heard must have been the Sheriff's bird, Guardian One.

But they're useful for some things. If I see Chopper 7 hovering over downtown in the afternoon, it usually means there's been another stabbing/shooting at the bus stop at 3rd & Pine, and I need to take a tunnel bus home.
Posted by Toe Tag on May 2, 2014 at 2:38 PM · Report this
Without the dynamic distractions of spinning logos, yellow parkas, helicopters and action news vans - how are they to justify their phony baloney jobs?

How, gentlemen?
Posted by tkc on May 2, 2014 at 3:12 PM · Report this
Can't wait for the Blue Angels to return Aug. 1-3.
Posted by Jeff on May 2, 2014 at 3:26 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 28
@24 is correct
Posted by Will in Seattle on May 2, 2014 at 3:44 PM · Report this
While hovering news/traffic/LEA choppers may be annoying to urbanites, this is only a portion of their function. For example, reporters were able to reach the Oso mudslide site last month in less than an hour, whereas it would have taken far longer to get there via automobile. This is in fact, their primary purpose: to get reporters & camera ops to a remote breaking news location as quickly as possible. In addition, news copters are frequently called in by first responders to assist at disaster sites, search-and-rescue operations, etc., etc. So, they do in fact provide some valuable services above and beyond the perhaps questionable ones you only see from a city-dweller's perspective.
Posted by COMTE on May 2, 2014 at 3:53 PM · Report this
Max Solomon 30
@23: it's supposed to help him win his argument that they are anachronisms. seems like an important point - they are dangerous to have flying willy-nilly over a city.
Posted by Max Solomon on May 2, 2014 at 5:11 PM · Report this
It's all a part of our grand scheme to turn Seattle into California.…

But if you want to go full Dominic you can buy some high power laser pointers and go to town ruining their camera shots. It won't be long before you'd run into some of Seattle's finest.…
Posted by ChefJoe on May 2, 2014 at 7:21 PM · Report this
I'm going to link back to this post every time one of you ninnies starts whining about webcams watching you.
Posted by treehugger on May 2, 2014 at 7:44 PM · Report this
Helicopters are one of the things I miss least about the big city. When I was a city-dweller, helicopters often inspired fantasies of owning my own supply of stinger missiles.
Posted by Blackcap on May 2, 2014 at 9:25 PM · Report this
It was actually nice to have aerial coverage of the May Day protests. The reporters on the ground can only cover so much of a big march at a time. So they'd be talking to the camera about something trivial while the other stations had aerial shots of police macing protesters a block away.
Posted by helicopternews on May 4, 2014 at 2:57 PM · Report this
They certainly don't help when chasing down a criminal such as OJ Simpson, or finding Tamerlan Tsarnaev. #sarcasm
Posted by Man_in_the_mirror on May 5, 2014 at 9:12 AM · Report this
Texas10R 36
When I Iived in Seattle, there was a bank robbery near downtown. FOUR helicopters hovered in tight formation (without circling) over the area LONG after custody was made. KING5, KOMO4, FOX13, and KIRO... and for what? Absolutely nothing was accomplished other than to turn a gorgeous sunny afternoon into a cacophonic shit-storm.

Also, nobody needs a TELEVISED traffic report. "Guess what, Steve; Traffic is a complete clusterfuck in the same places it is every day."
Posted by Texas10R on May 5, 2014 at 3:42 PM · Report this
stuckie 37
@12 You joke, but if all news stations needed were overhead shots of events, you could equip a comparably tiny remote drone carrying only a camera on a gimbal and that would seem to cover 90% of news needs.
Posted by stuckie on May 5, 2014 at 6:03 PM · Report this
@36 I notice that you are a "Douche Bag". I'll bet you now live in Austin, am I right?
Posted by Arthur Zifferelli on May 5, 2014 at 7:54 PM · Report this

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