Melody Kramer

Weather: An Immediate, Personalized Form Of Breaking News We Can All Learn From

21 Feb 2015 by melodyjoykramer

It’s snowing in DC. I’m not going to write a long note today, but if you get a chance today, take a look at the Capital Weather Gang Twitter feed.

You’ll notice that most of the information is crowdsourced from their audience. This isn’t by chance. And it’s really, really smart.

In 2011, the Washington Post launched free NWS Skywarn Spotter training for anyone who wanted to learn more about the weather and join the Capital Weather Gang Weather Watchers program. In return, trainees are asked to alert the Washington Post if any weather events take place in their backyards.

The result? The WaPo had accurate, personalized weather information from all around the region. This helps them prepare detailed reports, while also making the Weather Watchers feel like valuable members of the larger Washington Post community. (Every news org./civic tech group/library can learn from this case study.)

Funny or Die just released a weather app. Also not a coincidence… People check the weather repeatedly throughout the day. You always want to know what the weather’s like right now where you are. The Funny or Die app is funny, meaning you’re more likely to check their weather app, which leads to better brand awareness and more money for Funny or Die. (Weather apps lead to all sorts of data discoveries. If you only want to read one article about this,choose this one, which contains the quote “We can tell you that on a January morning in Miami, if a set of weather conditions occurs, people will buy a certain brand of raspberry.” It’s scary/smart.)

That also means The Weather Channel can spin up personalized ads based on the weather conditions where you are. (It’s hot? You probably want an iced coffee, not a hot chocolate.)

Some questions to ponder on this snowy day: What’s the WAZE of weather data? Can weather make people feel more invested in their local news? Weather, after all, is entirely local. How else can we think about weather? And what can we extrapolate from weather that may be applicable to other types of news?

Snowed In,
Mel Kramer

PS: If you like this type of stuff, please let a friend know about this newsletter.

PPS: I need more people who don’t work in news and don’t live in NY/SF/DC to talk about the news for my series People Not In News Commenting on The News. If you fit this description or know someone who does (all of you should know someone who does) let me know. I’m happy to talk about any projects you’re working on.

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