Free-Range Weather

Cage-Free Weather Commentary

By Goes Viral!

Weather Channel Home PageWhile The Weather Channel is going through a nasty dispute with DirecTV (surprise! – it’s about money), its sister property has experienced a surge in traffic over the past year or so, yet it’s not because people are interested in the weather. Far from it, unless you consider click bait like “They Found WHAT Inside a Whale?” and “Captive Gator’s Horrifying Diet” somehow weather related. (The “Is There a Pandemic Brewing?” headline from the screen grab above is one of least sensational “stories” I’ve seen recently.)

After being a fan for many years, I quit watching TWC as it seemed like every time I tuned in to, you know, watch live weather coverage I was confronted with “Real Stories of Coast Guard Rescues” or other reality-type programming. (Not coincidentally, these shows are much cheaper to produce and/or buy than live studio time with meteorologists actually discussing the weather.) Weather on the web is available anytime, and on my schedule, not TWC’s.

But I digress. I have been curious about why migrated away from reporting on real weather and embraced trashy non-weather related content. Now I know, thanks to Marc Tracy’s excellent piece in The New Republic. He was also interviewed on CBC’s Q; the interview starts at the three minute mark. You’ve probably guessed the reason by now: they attract more visitors and make more money with stories about gator diets than with stories about meteorology. It’s interesting reading/listening for weather fans.

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