Sunday, July 10, 2005

Hurricanes

We love watching bad weather.

Where we live, despite all the complaining from those smarter than us, bad weather stories make our ratings rise into the stratosphere. We get thousands of new viewers who need to know about that windstorm, where the snow is going to hit, and when the rain's gonna stop.

No matter what we do, no matter how trite (Sylvan Hill, Troutdale), we keep 'em rivited.

So why do people complain when we do what we do best - showing what's outside? How do we improve, and, more importantly, how can we take advantage of the huge jump in viewership to show how good we can be?

17 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why do viewers complain? Simple ! It's one thing to report what's happening, but it's clearly another to trump up the coverage and use "scare" tactics that every news station seems to use. Once again, the "S" word comes into play: Sensationalize.
Sending reporters to cover an occuring storm is acceptable; But having them stand there "LIVE", waiting for it to hit, saying "it's not here yet", is annoying as hell ! And stations do it all the time. It amounts to creating a story that doesn't otherwise exist. And viewers are savvy now, to the point of being insulted by rambling reporters with little more to talk about than what might happen, rather than what already has occurred.

Sunday, July 10, 2005 9:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Simp said...

Easy. Extreme weather is dramatic on its on merits, quit trying to over-dramaticize the situation. I see these antics and just roll my eyes and it usually makes me flip the channel nearly instantly.

Today, I caught just a touch of the coverage and saw a reporter in the middle of the storm barley able to stand saying something like "Its this horizontal rain that really stings when it hits your face!" Ya think?

Yes, they voyeur in people do want to see the real effects of the storm, but this inane commentary is laughable.

Anchors adopting that "deadly serious" look, leaning forward and modulating the voice a bit and conveying every aspect of storm as a "deadly" situation.

Aside: I will say that the initial coverage of St. Helens about a year ago was, for the most part excellent. However, the ensuing coverage day after day when nothing much was happening was just plain dumb. There was a really good side-story that I think everyone missed as well. While the story grabbed quite a few national cycles, The Cascade Volcano Observatory and the USGS was seeking additional funding to cover all this activity and congress told them to take a hike. It just seemed like a natural extension of the story that I don't remember seeing anyone ask.

Sunday, July 10, 2005 9:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Some anonymous guy said...

If viewers are so "savvy," then why do numbers hit the roof during storm (and pre-storm, and non-storm coverage)?

I think it's because winter weather can be personally threatening, in a way that almost nothing else we cover is. People need to know if the weather is, or might be, a danger--or at least an inconvenience. We do it because the public--as measured by ratings--demands it. If we don't, the next station will, and they'll eat our lunch in the numbers.

'Nother thing. I'm going to scream out loud next time I hear some condescending cheesehead from Wisconsin acting all haughty and superior because two inches of snow is kind of a big deal here, and it's not, where they're from. So the fuck what? We've had an ongoing volcanic eruption now for ten straight months. Think they'd make a big deal out of that in Duluth? Depends on what you're used to.

Sunday, July 10, 2005 9:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 9:37 said...
If viewers are so "savvy," then why do numbers hit the roof during storm (and pre-storm, and non-storm coverage)?

ANSWER: Ratings "hit the roof" because people DO care about extreme weather, and need real information; BUT.. that doesn't mean they care for the dramatics and B.S. of idiotic TV reporting; That they sit through it to produce those ratings only shows they need the relevant information, and are willing to tolerate the stupidity that has become coverage. The viewers are there, yes, but they have to glean pertinent information from the wide swath of crap that news organizations cut through the storms.

Sunday, July 10, 2005 11:14:00 PM  
Blogger PDXNoir said...

Sorry to continue to be a numbers geek, but I have a few questions.

First, do numbers rise in the market where there is bad weather, or do numbers rise everywhere and anywhere? IOW, do numbers in the Northwest increase when there is a hurricane in Florida?

It is my guess that local ratings rise in the local markets affected, and that may well be because more people are stuck at home watching television, because of the weather. The HUTs are elevated.

I think you can take advantage of the additional audience by turning down the hype and showing more analysis. And showing more of the other good reporting that you do, not just weather.

Monday, July 11, 2005 1:09:00 AM  
Anonymous 2524212 said...

A good topic.

It is widely believed (especially by consultants) that the station that consistently owns and wins weather coverage... wins overall and is #1 in the market. I believe that a big reason why KGW continues to do well is because they are big on weather. KOIN is the opposite; their weather coverage has never been worse, and neither have their ratings.

But... Portland is not a particularly weather-sensitive market. By that, I mean that we're not prone to receiving life or property-threatening weather. Even during our snow and ice storms, which is the most "dangerous" weather we get, the weather is little more than a big inconvenience to the public. Rarely, if ever, is the weather life-threatening.

With that said, all the stations now must go with continuing coverage of snow and ice situations because of one reason, and one reason only: competition. Ratings will rise during the events, and surely none of the stations wants to be left out of that opportunity to be visible. There is also more viewer sampling and channel-changing, so impressions can be formed, and habits can be created or changed. That doesn't happen much during "normal" news days.

The January 2004 storm set a new standard for weather coverage in this market. KPTV proudly claims that they had 40-some hours of continuous weather coverage. The bar has been raised (or lowered, depending on your perspective). But at what point does the coverage become excessive? Ratings won't tell us that, because the numbers will be high regardless. People are stuck at home; the TV will stay on. But when do the viewers' best interests become secondary to a station's desire to achieve top bragging rights (a la KPTV, January 2004)? Are we really here to serve the viewers responsibly? Or is our primary mission to win?

Monday, July 11, 2005 2:13:00 AM  
Anonymous Richard W said...

I'm usually a news snob, but if there's truly severe weather, and I'm stuck at home, I don't want just cold analysis. I want correspondents showing me an unfolding drama, with regular updates from the meteorologists. If I'm stuck at home watching TV all day, I want to be kept entertained. And since the TV I'll be watching will be the news, this is one situation where I'm perfectly content with the news being entertaining.

And I like the color commentary, such as the reporter describing the sting of horizontal rain.

But don't bother hyping a dusting of snow in the higher elevations. "When the first snowflake falls we'll bring it to you live" coverage just saps a station's credibility, even if it brings a short-term ratings boost.

Monday, July 11, 2005 5:14:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The best line was on CNN yesterday....Anderson Cooper flopping and posing in the rain and wind, with dangerous debris on the fly.... and Wolf Blitzer complimenting him for "extraordinary journalism".

C'mon! Extraordinary?....my ass!

Monday, July 11, 2005 6:57:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not sure why ALL the networks have to report the same way. Can't we have one station as an alternative? They may not get the high ratings during natural disasters, but they would earn respect after time. Why can't a BBC type formula work here in the US?

Monday, July 11, 2005 7:55:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

PBS is as close to BBC as you're going to get. I wish it did better here. But it does do better here than some markets.

Monday, July 11, 2005 8:51:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The brutal storm just after New Year's 2004 was the ONLY time I've seen 24 hour news coverage that warrented that kind of coverage, and even then it got kind of absurd, with the same truck driver being interviewed a dozen times out in Troutdale. "Uh, yeah, 84's closed. It sucks."

And my favorite thing, of course, is that KPTV sends their traffic reporter out to the tarmac to report from inside the helicopter, even when it's grounded by weather.

Monday, July 11, 2005 10:06:00 AM  
Anonymous No Weather Winner? said...

I believe that a big reason why KGW continues to do well is because they are big on weather. KOIN is the opposite; their weather coverage has never been worse, and neither have their ratings.

The first part of that is not really true. Our research has shown that no one station dominates weather here in Portland, I would bet that KGW is #1 due to news, although there is certainly nothing wrong with their weather coverage. I doubt anyone would argue with the second part of your post.

Monday, July 11, 2005 10:23:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I watch KGW because I like their weather presentation. Seriously, the first 10 minutes of any news cast are pretty much the same stories presented in a similar matter...unless your Fox12 and than it's 10 minutes of Meth Watch...anyway, I feel comfortable with KGW's weather segment because I feel they give me enough info without making it a 20 minute ordeal. I have tried watching KOIN but I noticed it's not nearly as interesting and their presentation is boring...

Monday, July 11, 2005 10:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"unless your Fox12 and than it's 10 minutes of Meth Watch"

That is what you call about a 6 month branding success!

Monday, July 11, 2005 11:56:00 AM  
Anonymous Jay said...

Hey, PDX - sorry, but most of us find the "storm team" coverage just plain dumbass. See the Chicago Sun-Times: http://snipurl.com/g6op

Monday, July 11, 2005 3:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Weather Armageddon said...

Be careful when you watch--you'll know it's not a big deal when the breathless reporters or anchors toss to the weather anchor and he/she verbally takes it down a few notches. I find that very few weather folks "hype" the weather. It's generally the reporters & management.
Now when the weather guy/gal is jumping up and down on the desk with glee or is extra intense/serious, then you'll know there REALLY IS a storm coming!

I do believe that KGW may win weather coverage from the field since they seem to be everywhere, even with minor storms. But I don't think they win with the weather people or presentation itself.

Monday, July 11, 2005 3:40:00 PM  
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