News-, weather-, air-quality-reporting accuracy: Worth its weight in gold and then some!

“Extra! Extra! Read, [hear, see] all about it!”

A really difficult job news reporting must be. I mean, it must be, really.

Consider the following.

In watching news on the hurricane impacting the Texas gulf-coast region of late which it goes without saying is so, so sad (my heart goes out to all people affected), I can’t help but be put off by some of the information presented on the broadcast news having to do with just this very situation. On one network, I heard from one reporter that Hurricane Harvey was a Category 3 storm and then getting the news about the same extreme weather-related event from yet another reporter also providing coverage, this time reported was that this very same hurricane was rated Category 4 with sustained winds of over 130 miles per hour. (I’ve been regularly tuning in to receive the latest updates). When there is this type of disparity on the news, that, too, is most unfortunate.

Now, it’d be one thing if this sort of thing was a one-time occurrence. Trust me when I tell you, it’s not. News, weather, air quality, you name it: there’s nothing that escapes being reported inaccurately, let me tell you. In fact, yesterday evening when I was watching the weather reporting of two local-to-Fresno television-companies’ broadcasts (these were, of course, aired on two different stations owned by the same company as it turns out), when it came to the two respective meteorologists reporting yesterday’s area high temperatures, on one station I heard that the high in Fresno reached a 108, tying the record set previously for the Aug. 28 date. Then in listening to the second meteorologist on the sister station, Fresno’s high temperature reported for Aug. 28, 2017 was, as reported, one degree higher or 109 – which, according to the second meteorologist reporting, broke the record. Disagreement, yet again.

So, it’d be one thing if there were differences between the two reporting concerns regarding the high temperature reading for one city, in this case, Fresno. But, that there were others also, come on, seriously?! For Lemoore: ditto. On the first, high temp reported: 110; and on the second for Lemoore: 111. For Visalia: (if memory serves me correctly) 104 and on the second, 105. You get the idea, I’m sure, but you also have to wonder. I wonder how many other people tuned into picked up on this.

Okay, wait for it, time to report on air quality information, the point here being, I don’t recall either seeing or hearing much on this matter from either station. I do remember hearing from one of the meteorologists something about there being an air-quality alert. Beyond that I don’t recall much. What I know for a fact is that, in referencing a different source, forecasted for Fresno County for yesterday, the Air Quality Index being 140, toward the upper limit of the “unhealthy-for-sensitive-individuals” range, and matching the level for the day previous – Aug. 27, 2017 – in Fresno County. The culprit pollutant? Ozone.

As well and weather-/heat- (and possibly air-quality-) related, what I remember so vividly also – in fact, I can even picture the scene in my mind – was information provided by one of the stations in question about a cooling center – a place people can go to retreat and get a break from the heat. What was so out of the ordinary in my opinion was that the scene shown on screen was an entry/exit door to the facility presumably and, as it happens, it was left in the fully open position. My immediate thought: “Cooling center? Yeah, right. You’ve got to be kidding!” This so reminds me of reported news that dealt with the southwest U.S. drought of recent times. You guessed it: A scene showing a running faucet.

And, I ask: Are these the kinds of mixed messages (is this the kind of information) news outlets should be sending, broadcasting, presenting to the viewing and/or listening audience? Not only do I think not, I know not.

That said, and to reiterate once more, if the news, regardless of content, is going to get aired or printed, it better be reported accurately! To do anything less, what good does such do for anyone? I mean, really.

As I was saying, news-, weather-, air-quality-reporting accuracy is worth its weight in gold and then some!

Image above: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

– Alan Kandel

1 thought on “News-, weather-, air-quality-reporting accuracy: Worth its weight in gold and then some!”

  1. On the subject and concerning the weather map above, can you identify a counterintuitive element to it? if you notice, low pressure is depicted with the letter “L” and high pressure with the letter “H”. However, in almost all places where we encounter “hot” and “cold,” it is safe to say, we associate red with hot and blue with cold. So, why is it on all weather maps like the one shown above, this is the convention?

    Meanwhile, by the same token, it is not uncommon to see on a local news broadcast during the weather segment, a state or regional map where high temperatures (read: “hot weather”) dominate for the background color superimposed on such a map to be blazing, intense red.

    Like I alluded to previously, disagreement.

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