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.