Monday, July 27, 2009
Seriously, folks, this Madison TV viewer is just plain forecast-fatigued and Doppler Maxed-out.
Three hours of Sturm und Drang -- that's how long TV viewers in southern Wisconsin had to do without regular ABC, CBS and NBC programming, as the local network affiliates in Madison preempted their own local news, the network evening news and early evening network programming in order to follow the progress of the gaudy, brightly-colored Doppler splotches on their slow but steady course down the bottom half of the Wisconsin map. There has to be a better way.
Don't get me wrong. TV severe weather warnings can save lives, and even one life saved is worth a lot of inconvenience. But this was ridiculous. At any given moment during the three hours, most viewers were subjected to completely irrelevant warnings about severe weather many miles away. Three hours of false alarms. It conditions people to ignore TV warnings, and eventually they'll ignore something that really does apply to them.
It doesn't make a lot of sense, when something more targeted would be be a lot more effective. There could be a map in the corner of the screen the way there used to be, a warning crawl across the bottom of the screen -- or instructions to tune to the station's secondary digital channel for more information.
Instead, they've gone to this drop-everything, all-weather, all-the-time approach -- with frequent appeals to viewers to send in their severe weather photos, at the same time disingenuously warning them NOT to go out and take storm pictures but instead go straight down to the basement and take cover.
It's enough to make you think that this entire circus has more to do with ratings and marketing than with public safety. That they're more concerned with going head-to-head against the other stations' talking weather heads and showing off their technology than with informing the public. Or so it seems.