Tuesday, August 31, 2010

What Do We Know about Weather Broadcasts?

With the 5th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina last week and Hurricane Earl threatening to barrel down on the east coast this week, I found myself being curious about news coverage of weather.

I wanted to know whether communications scholars uncovered any patterns in weather broadcasts? (For example: During a big storm, how likely are we to see that poor weather-beaten field reporter compared to the high and dry station meteorologist with his mighty Doppler Radar data?)

After turning to the Communication and Mass Media Complete database and searching for broadcasting AND news, I found a great article from the February 2007 issue of the Journal of Applied Communication Research titled " Conceptualizing Continuous Coverage: A Strategic Model for Wall-to-Wall Local Television Weather Broadcasts". This study looked at four local television stations’ coverage of four Atlantic hurricanes in two Southeastern markets in 2005 and found that live reporting only made up about 12% of coverage and weather reporters received most of the air time compared to news talent.

Granted, this is only one study, but it makes me wonder what other patterns exist in weather broadcasting. With all of these news-worthy weather events, I'm afraid communication scholars will have many opportunities to find out.