“WEATHER, YOU LOVE IT OR HATE IT… IT’S PART OF THE JOB”

by Kristyn Caddell

You know the days when it was hardly windy, but there was a chance of a tropical storm and you grabbed your “wind-o-meter” just to tell the viewers  the wind was coming at you at about 5mph.  Which is clearly no reason for concern.  Or how about  those reporters who are actually in real elements  hoping to be tossed around by mother nature so they might get a good clip for a resume reel.  We’ve all seen it and many of us (myself included) have done it.  And in many cases, you don’t have a choice it’s what your bosses want.

And, then there’s the people who aren’t in the business who watch from a distance and offer criticism.  Who will to your face offer up a stereotypical impersonation of one such occasion that for me has always seemed to end with “Back to you Bob.”

It’s laughed off, shrugged off until the next severe weather event and then the cycle often repeats.

We oftentimes get a bad rap for over-kill with the weather for example the now infamous 25 box graphic produced by an Atlanta station during the recent snow storm.

But what if you didn’t have to do anything wild? No signs blowing ready to fall on your head? No snow stick to measure how  much of the white stuff has fallen?

I recently watched a story that proves you really don’t need much to illustrate your point. Ditch the cheesiness, the clichés, the overused props…that stuff is easy to think up.

Lindsay Cohen is a reporter for KOMO-TV in Seattle.  She’s one of those reporters you want to watch whatever she does because you can rest-assured it’s going to be different and memorable.  And, in Seattle where the weather is more often than not a topic of conversation, Cohen demonstrated her point seamlessly.  I reached out to Lindsay because I knew there would be a story behind the story….Sure enough there was….Below is her story and her response…

WATCH: “ COLD WEATHER, WARM REPORTER

we were in our afternoon editorial meeting. Only two reporters were working night side, so it was inevitable that one person was going to get the cold weather assignment. Temperatures that day were in the low 20s – very unusual for this part of the country – and it was about day three of our cold snap, so we’d already exhausted a lot of the usual story ideas (shelters, plumbers, safety stories, etc.)

I knew I’d have a 50/50 chance of getting assigned the story – given our staffing levels for the day – and so earlier in the day when I saw this piece out of NYC that talked about things that annoy viewers about TV news (http://bit.ly/1eSfkXt), it got me thinking: how could we do a cold weather story without being the cliche of standing out in the cold?

I pitched that we should do the whole story from inside the news car; that we should somehow get people to come up to us and talk to us. Our news director liked the idea but didn’t think that would be enough to carry the story. Right around the same time, our newest photographer, Mitch Pittman, walked in the room. He’s been an MMJ in some other markets – and is quite involved in the story process at KOMO – and so I asked him, “how would you do this?” He’d seen another piece a while back that used the white board idea for some other story. We thought: what if we applied it to the concept of staying indoors – and asked people to call in from the cold? Thus, our story was born.

What’s interesting is we initially had a tough time getting the attention of people walking by. We were at Sport, downstairs from KOMO (which I know you are familiar with!) and didn’t realize that the windows are heavily tinted and sound-proof. So I genuinely had to bang on the windows quite a bit to get people to talk to us.

So… that’s the inside story!

Kristyn Caddell is a reporter for WFTV in Orlando FL. Follow her on Twitter: @KCaddellWFTV

 

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