A few weeks ago Elizabeth McGuire of Hartford Magazine asked me to respond to some thoughts from the news director of one of my competitors. I thought you might like to read the finished product.
“A great, great deal has been said about the weather, but very little has ever been done.” More than 130 years after Hartford resident Mark Twain made that observation, we still have a great deal to say about the weather. “What is the one universal content item in a newscast that affects everyone? It’s the weather,” says Nick Lawler, a senior consultant with Frank N. Magid, a widely recognized television-industry consulting company based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. “In national and local studies, weather usually comes out as one of , if not the top reason for people to watch a newscast,” says Lawler.
It’s not surprising that competition is still among local television stations to grab weather-watcher’s attention. Stations may not be able to do much about Mother Nature but they certainly attempt to track her every move. For example, WFSB-TV has been promoting “Early Warning Weather.” What’s that mean? “The combination of the most advanced technology and the most experienced team of meteorologists means we can warn viewers about what’s coming faster and more accurately that any other station,” says News Director Lyn Tolan. “We can give you snowfall to a portion of an inch for the area where you live. It’s really amazing stuff.”
Veteran WTNH-TV weatherman Geoff Fox, however, doesn’t buy Tolan’s claim. “We are much more accurate than we were in the past,” says Fox. “However, we believe that an accurate forecast, of value to our viewers, begins with realistic claims of our abilities. We don’t promise what we can’t deliver.” Fox also says, If she (Tolan) would like to make a wager on her claim, I will gladly take her money.” Thus challenged, Tolan says that though she stands by her claim, she’s not “a betting woman!”