7.5 Weather Languages. It's NOT what you say...that gets you into Trouble...but How it's Understood

Friday, 23 June 2017: 2:30 PM
Salon III (InterContinental Kansas City at the Plaza)
David Aldrich, WVLT-TV, Knoxville, TN

Newsroom phone call, it's for you | "Yeah, hi, I've got a weather complaint,

You said we would get 2 to 4" of snow, I only got 3" TAKEAWAYS  Most viewers understand a temperature "range," or a snow forecast "range." This group of viewers will even consider it a success, when you split the uprights.  However, there's another group of viewers that like to take the HIGHEST number in that "range" and put it in their pocket.  Hence, 2 to 4" of snow means 4" to them.  And 3 to 6" of snow means 6" to them.  So, consider this "language" when you put together your forecast.  Or how about this one: "Yeah, you keep running that crawl stuff on the bottom of my T.V. screen"  "How am I supposed to know what COUNTY I live in ?"  TAKEAWAYS  Yes, this was a real call.  And yes, this was in West Virginia.  But it can happen anywhere -  Often times, when we travel, on the road, in a hotel, we don't always know what COUNTY we're in.  If a Tornado Warning is issued, the last thing you want to be doing is guessing what COUNTY you're in.  Of course, there's always Google, Bing, Yahoo or an App for that.  But in the heat of a storm, do you really want to "mess" with that?  According to the Pew Research Center (July 28, 2015), 15% of Americans don't use the internet.  TAKEAWAYS  I think it's important we take a broad view when we approach mass communication.  Our listeners can be 8 or 98 years old, a second grade education, or Ph.D.

"I've got plans tomorrow.  Is it going to rain ALL DAY ?"  How to answer this, and express you uncertainty.

"Are we going to get some snow?" versus  "Are we going to see some snow?"

And how to deal with this, "Hey weatherman, You said the high today was supposed to be 70°, I only got to 69° - You lied.  You lied.  You l-i-e-d to me.  All you weather people lie.  You got the ONLY job where you can be wrong and still get PAID."

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