Should we talk about the weather?

by andybechtel

The News & Observer is shrinking its weather coverage.

For years, the Raleigh paper has devoted the top half of the back page of the local section to the weather. That has included color maps of North Carolina and the United States as well as the forecasts and data such as the ocean temperatures.

The paper wants reader feedback on the changes, posting a prototype of what the new weather package could look like. Here’s my reaction:

THE GOOD

  • The previously cluttered U.S. map is cleaned up and attractively presented.
  • The forecast is concise and easy to read.
  • The old page’s redundancy has been eliminated. No longer are Newark and New York listed separately, or Greenville and Spartanburg, S.C.

THE NOT SO GOOD

  • Orlando, Las Vegas and Myrtle Beach are major tourist destinations, but they don’t appear anywhere on this page. This is especially odd considering that El Paso and Billings made the cut.
  • The map locates Charlotte but not Raleigh. Indeed, the weather package lists Charlotte in the list of national temperatures and in the list of state temperatures. Is this another example of Charlotte creep in the N&O?

The larger question, of course, is whether the weather in print makes sense anymore. Like the stock listings, weather information in print can suffer from staleness.

In Greensboro, the News & Record has reduced its weather package in a more dramatic way, eliminating the map and the list of temperatures from around the world. A few readers complained, but not many. Perhaps that’s indicative of a change in the way people get this type of news.

It’s easy to get weather information online or “on the 8s” on The Weather Channel. A weather page in print and the meterologist/personality on the 6 o’clock news seem like anachronisms.

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