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Hurricane Sandy Media Coverage: Storm Shoves All Other Stories Off The Agenda

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"Things are about to get much worse today," Matt Lauer said at the beginning of the "Today" show on Monday.

That was the big message coming from every corner of the morning shows, as Hurricane Sandy hurtled towards the East Coast. The massive storm shoved all other news off of the agenda, as networks moved from political coverage to another one of their specialties: hurricane coverage.

"Good Morning America" called it a "Halloween Superstorm." It wrapped its show in a graphics backdrop of water and lightning. Its meteorologists had special "EXtreme Team" windbreakers. Correspondents excused themselves for getting "nerdy" as they hammered home statistics about the storm. "GMA" didn't get to the presidential campaign until 16 minutes in to the hour. The angle? How Sandy was affecting things.

On "Today," Al Roker reported from a New Jersey beach. Even though the storm was 350 miles away from him, his yellow windbreaker was already soaked through. He had to shield himself from the winds.

"This is the beginning," he said. Matt Lauer called it "literally a perfect storm."

MSNBC's "Morning Joe" stuck largely to its political script, though the show turned to the Weather Channel for updates on the storm's path. Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski interviewed President Obama during the weekend -- a chat likely to be overwhelmed by the Sandy news.

"CBS This Morning" touted footage of a huge wave threatening to take out one of its cameras:

ABC's Matt Gutman also got hit by a rogue wave:

CNN sent Soledad O'Brien outside. "I'm anxious," she said. "I've got my kids in the apartment."

One thread running through all of the shows: believe the hype. A year after Hurricane Irene fell short of expectations for many people who were forced to stay in their homes, anchors stressed that Sandy is expected to be more powerful and much more on target than its predecessor.

"It's going to be much, much worse than Hurricane Irene," CNN meteorologist Rob Marciano said.

The Weather Channel decided to live-stream all of its coverage online. Newspapers dropped their paywalls so people could read their reporting.

The irony of hurricane coverage is always that people on television warning others to get inside are, in fact, outside and not following orders. As Sandy gets worse, networks will have to make increasingly hard decisions about the balance between reporter safety and the most comprehensive coverage.

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