National media's polar vortex coverage neglects Minnesota

Most of the focus has been on Chicago, where it was actually warmer.
Publish date:

If you consumed nothing but national media this week, you'd be forgiven for thinking that Chicago was the only place to experience it.

That's because this week's plunging temperatures have reinforced the old adage that extreme weather matters less when it doesn't involved New York/Chicago/Boston/Los Angeles.

We wouldn't mind, except that it was considerably colder in the Twin Cities than it was in Chicago, and even more so in cities north and west of the metro area.

But you wouldn't know it by reading this NBC piece "Polar vortex brings Chicago to a standstill: 'It's our own natural disaster,' or this article by the Guardian, which focuses mostly on Chicago only to briefly note that, hey, one of the coldest places was actually Minnesota.

Oh, and Chicago got its own separate piece in the Guardian about how they're making "the best of life" in the cold, while the UK-based BBC also heavily featured Chicago, with two quick mentions of Minnesota.

Over at CNN, its round-up on the vortex features an entire section on the "frost-quakes" reported in Chicago, as well as residents in Michigan being asked to turn their thermostats down (something that happened in Minnesota too).

Minnesota is mentioned once, in the line: "Storm-related deaths were also reported in Illinois, Minnesota, Indiana and Wisconsin, authorities said."

Seriously, check out this CNN weather report that literally shows colder temperatures in Minnesota, yet the meteorologist focuses pretty much entirely on Chicago.

This Chicago bias hasn't gone unnoticed on the Minnesota sub-reddit, where Minnesotans have been having some fun with media memes.

There are some honorable exceptions to the rule. This New York Times piece for example, while Chicago focused, does make some effort to reference some of the impacts of the vortex on jail visits and frostbite admissions in Minnesota.

NPR as well gave a few shoutouts to Minnesota's response to the weather, not least Gov. Tim Walz's decision not to announce statewide school closures, while the Wall Street Journal had a reporter in northern Minnesota.

Sign up: Subscribe to our BREAKING WEATHER newsletters

Maybe the reason Minnesota doesn't get as much focus is because we get cold weather more often and just handle it much better.

You didn't see MSP Airport cancelling 1,600 flights like they did in the rather-warmer Chicago. Likewise, Wisconsin, Michigan and Illinois all declared states of emergency in response to the cold. Minnesota? We can deal with it.

But if you think the coverage has been tunnel-vision so far, the Polar Vortex is now making its way east, and we all know what happens when the East Coast gets extreme weather.

Prepare for disproportionate national coverage of the "dangerous" wind chills of 10-20 below that are afflicting Boston today.

Next Up

Cam Talbot

Wild improve to 4-1 with victory over Dubnyk, Sharks

The 4-1 win gives the Wild four victories in five games to start the season.

Screen Shot 2021-01-22 at 9.08.16 PM

Daughter of MN Supreme Court Justice, Allina Health CEO found dead in Iowa

The 21-year-old was found dead in the parking lot of a sorority, according to police.

Screen Shot 2020-09-04 at 8.42.40 PM

Federal charges: MN marijuana lobbyist threatened U.S. representative

"I want you to be as scared as possible," the voicemail allegedly says.

coronavirus, masks, covid-19

Wisconsin Republicans aim to end governor's mask mandate

They've introduced a resolution to remove the governor's emergency powers.

Ted Schweich

Community group hopes to install billboard to get neighbor a kidney

A group called "Team Ted" aims to raise $5,000 to find their friend a kidney donor.

Andrew Palmer

Charges: Coach raped teenage girl on Minnesota basketball team

The 33-year-old head coach has been charged in connection to the alleged crimes.

radio station, microphone

WCCO Radio's program director leaves the company

It's not clear why John Hanson and the station parted ways.

Minneapolis skyline

Minneapolis a step closer to banning facial recognition technology

There are concerns about it leading to a surveillance state, and that it could harm disadvantaged communities.

covid-19, coronavirus, PPE

Here is Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Friday, January 22

Nearly 50,000 Minnesotans have received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.


Watch: Minnesota comedian's Polar Vortex report goes viral

Rob Fairbanks has a knack for making weather reports go viral.

Notorious hedge fund buys Minnesota media group and its 11 newspapers

Alden Global Capital has been referred to as a hedge fund "vampire."

Twin Cities improv troupe gets praise in national magazine

HUGE Theater has been entertaining audiences since 2005.