The Economist Gulliver blog makes a good case that media coverage of Irene was appropriate for the threat:
Hurricanes are serious business. They have the capacity to cause billions of dollars in damage and kill hundreds or thousands of people. They have political consequences, too—no politician wants to be blamed for a disaster the way President George W. Bush was after Hurricane Katrina. Moreover, it is very unusual for a hurricane to hit America's north-east, where around one sixth of Americans live and a quarter of the country's economic output is produced. An unusual, potentially disastrous event that was certain to affect millions of Americans and put billions of dollars of property at risk is just the sort of thing the media should be covering. Just because Irene wasn't the disaster that some Americans feared doesn't mean it wasn't important to cover it.
Another way to look at it, just because Irene didn't cause more damage doesn't mean the preparations and coverage were wrong. Just two days ago it looked like Manhattan, Queens, Nassau, Suffolk, Hoboken, and Jersey City—places where millions of people live just a few meters above sea level—could experience devastating damage from a storm surge. This is, remember, the first hurricane to hit New York City in about a century.
I'm very happy the storm did as little damage as it did. And even though it turned out to be unnecessary, I'm glad Mayor Bloomberg and Governors Cuomo and Christie took the actions they did to prepare for what looked like, earlier this weekend, an unprecedented disaster.