Longtime readers of this blog may recall an exercise from my editing class in which students discuss unsettled or debatable style questions. Previous versions of the assignment have included “first-year student” vs. “freshman” and the now-retired “mike vs. mic.”
This semester, I added this question: Should our mythical publication, The Triangle Tattler, use the naming convention that The Weather Channel has come up with for winter storms?
Most students said no. These students said that winter storms are different from hurricanes and that the Weather Channel’s scheme seemed gimmicky and unnecessary. So Tattler style will be to delete names like Falco or Maximus should they appear in news stories that students edit this semester.
There was some dissent, however, with one student arguing strongly for raising awareness of winter weather and making individual storms more easy to identify now and for posterity. Another suggested a sentence like this in news stories: “The storm, sometimes known as Leon…” to help readers connect what they had seen on TV with what they were reading in print or online.
So what are some Triangle news organizations doing? UNC’s student newspaper has used the name of a winter storm in a headline and story, but The News & Observer and WRAL have not.
On Twitter, weather forecaster Nate Johnson points out that the National Weather Service does not recognize the Weather Channel’s names. You can read more about Johnson’s thoughts on the matter on his blog. His arguments are persuasive.
As an editor, I am unwilling to go along with this idea until the NWS endorses it. As a person, I prefer to blame all of the cold, snow and ice on a single villain. His name? Old Man Winter.