How's the weather?

July 31, 2014 01:30

By Chris Carl, RTDNA Chairman

I learned long ago that weather is news. It’s the one thing everyone talks about. Need a conversation starter? “How ‘bout this weather?” Have a lull in a conversation? “Crazy weather we’re having, huh?” But does the news media go too far when it talks about the weather?

I believe WENY-TV in Elmira, NY did the right thing when they cut away from the ending of the World Cup final to broadcast potentially life-saving information about a tornado warning. (I would’ve advocated for a split screen, but that’s a debate for another day.)

I’m sure we’ve all gotten angry phone calls and tweets about “hyping” a storm that never materialized, but I’d rather be prepared for the worst and have it fizzle out than have a small storm blow into a serious situation. But I’ve also seen newscasts lead with the fact that it was a beautiful day. No kidding! I can look out the window and tell you that. Newscasters are supposed to be able to go far beyond the obvious. If it's obvious, we don't need to tell you.

There is a fine line between hype and legitimacy, and we need to make sure we stay on the right side of it. Our credibility is at stake.

If you haven’t done so recently, I encourage you to review your station’s plan for storm coverage. From this week’s devastating storms in New England to tropical storms brewing out at sea to tornados across the plains, no one is immune to Mother Nature’s wrath.

How do you handle severe weather coverage? Have you implemented new storm coverage ideas recently that you’d like to share? Are you using your website to offer additional information and resources? Let us know in the comments below.