Continuous Forecast

I try to pay pretty close attention to people like Jeff Jarvis and Terry Heaton.  They are charting the course of digital journalism, we need only substitute one word.

Terry’s latest post is worth a read, but you will have to work for it. Everywhere is says “news” you insert “weather”.  You should probably read it before finishing this post…I’ll wait…

Journalists will be angry at my next comment.  “Weather built TV news.”  There, I said it…now before I get any angry comments from TV news folks let me explain.  You did your part.  It was an important part.  It probably was the most important part, and I thank you for doing it.  But, we’ve all seen the research.  Back in the golden age of research, weather always came up first or second, maybe third, as to why people came to the local newscast.

That was then.

The weatherman on TV has two jobs.  Tell people if it is going to rain…and invite them into the tent to sample the rest of the wares of the newscast.  We need to lead the way again.

Today…I can’t think of one reason why anyone would wait for your newscast for weather.  Can you?  Fancy graphics?  Your charming personality?  Really think hard before you give me the “I provide context and an explanation” argument.  Be honest.  I do believe we have a place.

Read Terry’s post again, and insert “weather”.

A friend of mine who was a TV news producer many years ago, and now runs her own successful business, has been longing for the days when she could come in and create a product, the newscast. Recently she wrote,

“…every day has a beginning and an end that is what is appealing to me – with my own biz, it’s always here and I can always be doing more. Or always feel like I’m not doing enough.”

According to Heaton, “the end” my friend spoke of, now, never comes.

A few years ago I breathed a sigh of relief when I was finally able to “end” a forecast.  When I began doing weather, it never ended.  I’d wake up in the morning needing to make sure we had hit my forecast low.  Weekends were a disaster.  If Sunday afternoon was different than what I had said on Friday evening I felt bad, but even if I had been right, I was always checking…always on call.  A few years ago I was able to detach and not worry about it (as much).

Well…I sighed too early.

Call it “continuous news” or “river of information” or a “stream”…we need to dive in.  You now have the opportunity to communicate with users whenever they want you.  Will you post your cell phone number and let them call you?  Where will they go if they need weather information at 2:00 in the afternoon?  If the chart on Nate Johnson’s recent post doesn’t scare the pants off of you, you need to be stuck by lightning.

If nearly 50% of iPhone users are getting their information from The Weather Channel app,  we are in big trouble.

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About Kevin Selle

Chief Meteorologist, KFDX-TV. Co-host, WeatherBrains.
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