We live in a day and age where information is available at the click of a button, 24/7. We no longer have to wait on the evening news to see the news of the day. That said, instant access to information doesn’t always equate to access to accurate information. With the burst of cold air sweeping the nation news stations have taken the opportunity to sensationalize this event and create, as Meteorologist James Spann calls it, “clickbait.”
As a social media, online-addicted culture the worse the headline, the more we are baited to click, share, and like a story. Those clicks generate great analytics, meaning the number of people viewing content. In the news realm, as many eyes as we can get on a story the better.
Playing to the hype and fear-mongering is not, and I repeat, is not accurate forecasting, nor is it journalistically sound writing. Always make sure that the article you read is credited. Make sure that the information is from a sound source. There are a lot of “wanna be” meteorologists. For example, one of the major networks brought in a physicist on their morning show to describe what was happening in the weather world. Said physicist proceeded to use polarizing, vague language. Although I took my fair share of physics courses, they aren’t calling me in to discuss string theory. My point is this, leave weather to the weather guys (none gender specific).
Moreover, let’s say the headlines were right (which they aren’t), why aren’t people trying to prepare the quarter of a billion of people who stand in the path of this unprecedented weather event. You know what that is, proof. That is proof that many news outlets care more about the number of people who are watching and not really caring about the people themselves. Let me explain. In the severe weather belt of the US, it is my obligation to inform viewers of approaching weather, but most importantly it is my obligation to PREPARE the viewer. If this winter event is as bad as the headlines they write, where are the coordinating articles about winter safety, being prepared. In closing, my goal is to bring you honest, straightforward, forecasts aimed at keeping you informed and prepared. My job is not to promote fear, but to help reduce fear. My job is not to over-hype weather, but to accurately report it. My job is earn the trust of a viewer, not to scare them into viewership. Maybe my headline that read “Strong cold-front brings frigid air to the deep south” is too vanilla, but my headline will not prompt fear, and will not inaccurately display what is really happening.