Protection and Control

I had an interesting conversation with a local broadcast TV executive not long ago.  I was floating the idea of a Twitter stream of real time information as a screen crawl during severe weather.

Those of us with access to NWSChat have already learned that keeping up with a data stream during an event is next to impossible and you pick out data as you go.  The Twitter stream seemed like a useful idea for viewers.

After I finished my elevator pitch the executive’s first question was, “What if someone posts something inappropriate?”

I want to take this apart a bit.  It seemed obvious to me, but apparently not to him, that the idea was not to put every tweet on the screen.  The tweeters would be approved and vetted by the station before inclusion in the stream.

The more important lesson is the recognition of who is in control.  For many years the television station has decided what gets on TV.  We are journalists and professionals and we know better, right? Maybe, maybe not…and it really does not matter.  Today information flows like water, and the water level is rising…quickly.

Users will go where the information is, whether it is “approved” by you or not.  If you are providing it to them they may come to you, if you are not, they certainly won’t.

As the water level of information rises, the available opportunity is helping the user find the good stuff, not deciding for them what is good.


About Kevin Selle

Chief Meteorologist, KFDX-TV. Co-host, WeatherBrains.
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2 Responses to Protection and Control

  1. We’re live with a meteorologist saying “duck and cover”. The other guy is getting storm reports from FaceBook and running radar. Production is coordinating live shots from the crews in the field and Skype. Pics are coming in from every device with a cam on it. The event is big and we’re all over it.

    Do we need another source of info? All “heck” is breaking loose. I think my family and I could be dead in a matter of minutes! Which source do I watch, listen to and /or read? Just consider that simple and accurate isn’t such a bad thing.

    Another frustrating angle… Those people gathering all that info/media and pushing it to air aren’t here anymore. We have been cut back to skeleton crew. Many of our stories end up as a map because “they” won’t pay overtime to get video. I pressed our promotions/website folks about streaming live on the site. The 3 paragraph email response was that it was just too much trouble. Oh by-the-way the two other stations in town do it. On the heels of the southern tornado outbreak… this stinks

    It’s just very tough wanting to be the best, help folks in danger, get the good video, have to best live shot and the answer is no we can’t cause it cost money to do that.

    Just one dudes opinion…
    Thx & Blessings Kevin
    ~prayers for those who were in the path of distructions

    • Kevin Selle says:

      All good points.

      Completely agree that simple is better. I had a fit when CNN Headline News went through their “put every possible data point on the screen” phase. One of our jobs is to curate the data and select the best information.

      Change is hard and the old local television news model is populated by people who don’t want change. One way to plow forward is to start using the available tools to disseminate information on your own. Get that blog going, or Twitter feed or Facebook. Do it under your own brand and start promoting that brand wherever you can. We are at a time where “ask forgiveness rather than permission” might be the best way.

      Come here an vent anytime and keep us posted. Thanks for the comment.

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