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The weather via the media: We are all in!

Thunderstorm photo courtesy: Jago Heyn

Thunderstorm photo courtesy: Jago Heyn


Gary Archibald
Weather Broadcaster

Friday, May 31, 2013, 2:31 PM -

If you have a smartphone, a laptop, home computer or all of these devices, you have the ability to broadcast the weather.

It seems amazing to me that a decade ago, the speed that a news story was disseminated across global media outlets was a snail’s pace, compared to today's advanced, ultra-fast connections.

Have phone. Turn on. Take picture. Take video Clip. Send. Send to Twitter. Send an e-mail to your spouse or your mom. Upload a video clip to Facebook -- it’s quick and easy. 

Think about the plethora of news outlets that carry weather news; Stormhunters – like The Weather Network’s meteorologists Jaclyn Whittal and Mark Robinson can, and have, been sending us live HD video via broadband cellular networks, along with live pictures and audio of tornado activity from tornado alley.

CNN is constantly streaming video clips of storms via their website. You and I, if in the right or wrong place at a particular time could be the eyes and ears to a breaking weather story – perhaps a violent downburst event, a dazzling lightning display or a relentless blizzard – the product of a Nor’Easter. 

Information is now everywhere. History is recorded. It’s has dimension – audio, visual – and textual description. Within seconds a story of a meteorological event in southern Alberta is seen, heard in Newfoundland, the Yukon, on Vancouver Island – and anywhere else around the globe – that is connected. Truly, we are linked.

This omnipresence of information gathering and dissemination is virtue and folly. 

Good news practices answer the key questions, like the who, what, where, when, why and how.

But often times the speed of transmission overshadows accuracy, common sense, journalistic protocol, human decency and good taste. 

We rely on your images to tell the weather story (courtesy: Adam Schrader)

We rely on your images to tell the weather story (courtesy: Adam Schrader)

We must all be mindful of what we say, record, and share in this complex multi-media vortex of social media – and media in general. A good rule is to think about your audience. Who’s going to benefit from the photo reaching the masses? Who may be hurt by it? Is it sensitive, discretionary material (i.e. does the video show people that have been injured or killed by a tornado or hurricane)?

We must take a moment at the very least to make the right call; It’s not all about being the first to get “it” – the story – “out there”. Let’s get it right first, in all respects.

Care, responsibility and consideration with respect to the audience are important factors for us all whether it be for the TV journalist or a citizen-bystander.

Indeed, we are all in it together, in one form or another.

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