FEBRUARY 16, 2023

Take the Weather with You

An image showing sunlight between The hills of Scotland

A news station with a mission to save lives. It may sound dramatic, but this is precisely what lies behind the United States-based Weather Channel, and they are using innovative storytelling techniques and a multiplatform approach to get the message out. 

In the latest episode of season three of the Making the Media Podcast, host Craig Wilson speaks with Nora Zimmett, president of news and original series, for the Atlanta-based group.

In the episode, she discusses their collaborative approach to creating content for The Weather Channel, the Weather Channel en Espanol, Pattrn (their climate change channel), and their OTT app, Local Now.

Nora says there has been a growing demand from staff to enhance their storytelling by delivering content for any of the platforms. She says staff told her, “‘We want to learn more skills, we need more opportunity to grow’, and it wasn't just more dollars and promotions, it was ‘I've been doing TV for 20 years. How do I write for digital? How do I become really proficient in social media to be able to harness the greatest number of Instagram viewers to be able to come engage with our content?’ And you know, we said there is literally no reason why these extremely smart, talented people can't learn multiple skills. And so we did that.”

The Weather Channel has become renowned for its outstanding coverage of major weather events such as hurricanes or wildfires and they have pioneered the use of immersive mixed reality graphics in their studio presentations to illustrate the power of these kind of extreme events.

She says this has had an impact on how people now view their safety.

We've had so many people come to us and say ‘Until I saw that demonstration, I really didn’t understand what it meant to have 4 feet of storm surge, 6 feet. What does it mean to, you know, flood a car’. And when we can actually show in front of people's eyes in a studio, in 3D, it has the impact of changing their behaviors and hopefully better understanding officials when they say it's time to leave, it's time to evacuate. Because none of us want to evacuate our homes. But by showing people what the danger truly is through this immersive mixed reality, we have been told numerous times that we are the ones who came in and convinced people to leave when they needed to.”

In the episode Nora also discusses why the channel focuses on weather news rather than weather forecasting, their plans to create even more personalized and localized content for viewers, and how they assess which stories to cover and how they are to be treated.

Find out more on the next episode of the Making the Media podcast, available on all major podcast platforms on Monday, February 20.

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  • Craig Wilson headshot

    Craig Wilson is a newsroom specialist with over thirty years of experience in the broadcast industry. Craig has held various roles with Avid and is now the Global Media and Cloud Product Evangelist and host of the Making the Media podcast.

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