How NOT to do tornado coverage
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
- Do not pre-empt the current show. Especially if it's only a tornado warning (no actual tornado). In a mostly rural area with very few people. And the vast majority of the audience in your viewing area are not affected. And the show that you pre-empted was Jeopardy!
- Do not show off your fancy-smancy "Doppler XP" (at least they could have picked a less blatantly marketing-dept name than that!). The objective is to present relevant information, not to show off the millions that you have wasted on useless smoke and mirrors.
- Do not piss off your audience by talking about the hail that had fallen earlier in the day or about the amount of rain that had fallen during pre-empting coverage or showing traffic cam pictures from an area that isn't even the tornado warning; your audience already hates you for pre-empting their favorite show, and wasting that time talking about such trivia is rubbing salt on the wound.
- Present the information statically, so that someone tuning in can get the information with a single glance of the screen--after all, if this had been a real emergency and not just a sensationalized, overblown media-manufactured situation, I do want really want to have to wait for the weather man, who appears to be running in a loop, to loop back and repeat the relevant information. A small inset map in the corner showing tornado watch and warning areas in different colors would be far more useful than an idiot weather man flipping through maps boasting about how great the station's radar is. Or a sidebar bulleting the important points, so that someone turning on the TV can get the info immediately. As a bonus, you wouldn't have to pre-empt the show if you did that. Imagine, less annoying to the user and more useful, too!
This, BTW, was also the first time that a TV station had angered me to the point that I wrote them a letter (well, an e-mail). The TV stations back in Kansas were much better. They didn't pre-empt shows for tornadoes, and despite that, they were still more informative than the clowns here.