S222 Social Media & Broadcast Meteorology Quandaries: A Comparative Study

Sunday, 6 January 2019
Hall 4 (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Jaemin Eun, University of Maryland, College Park, MD; and B. Brown IV and B. Bush

Social Media & Broadcast Meteorology Quandaries: A Comparative Study


Although forecasting is based upon rigorous physical and mathematical inputs, in recent years, Broadcast Meteorology has had to rely more on Social Impacts. With increasing frequency and severity of Extreme Weather Events, Broadcast Meteorology has played a major role in communicating the dangers to the public. But being a major source of commercial interest, many News Weather companies have overlooked such concerns in favour of hype and sensationalist topics which generally arise in more viewers and revenues. This can be especially detrimental if the public becomes disenfranchised with their information source during potentially dangerous situations in the future. This phenomenon has commonly been called “crying wolf”, the idea that information sources overexaggerate the scale of extreme weather episodes to garner attention, but at the most critical moments, people ignore warnings due to previous shortcomings. Within the broad-view of the Atmospheric Sciences, such social issues have been overlooked. For a field borne from economic and commercial interests, very little discussion has developed regarding the philosophical and ethical implications such research presents.

This study compares public responses through 2 different Twitter accounts representing “mind-sets” split between “Better Safe Than Sorry” and “Confidence Forecasting”. Through public response survey and Social Media interactions, the objective is to determine public preference of the 2 mind-sets and to compare them to responses garnered during extreme weather events.

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