My issues with the Weather Channel

24 05 2012

The Weather Channel is just terrible. In the past, it served a useful purpose. I remember watching it as a kid in the 90s. (I was a weird kid.) It was fairly straightforward with its purpose and implementation. It was a 24/7 cable channel where people could go get weather information for their own area as well as the rest of the country. It had incredible utility and was very good at what it did.

Unfortunately, as television executives are prone to doing, they took a perfectly good thing and fucked it up, royally. They must have had some top-level executive meeting ten years ago where they talked about all the things they could do to remove all but the most subtle signs of utility from the Weather Channel.

First, they added programming. They started putting on shows like “Storm Stories,” where rednecks are interviewed about their impressions of the inside of a fucking hurricane. It is a show that showcases the stories of people either unlucky enough to be in the path of a tornado or stupid enough to sit through a Category 4 hurricane.

Second, they added advertising. Granted, ads were on the Weather Channel for a long, long time. Unfortunately, there are way too many and they get more screen time than the weather itself.

Third, they have a morning show. It has Al Roker, no less. The Weather Channel has a morning show. You might be thinking, “Oh, great! I will get some national news while I get my weather!” Nope. “Wake Up With Al” has as tenuous a grasp on news reporting as Roker’s last show, the horrendous “Today” show on NBC.

There is, however, still weather on the Weather Channel. “Local on the 8s” is the last remaining fragment of TWC’s focused and purposeful lineup. Local on the 8s gives a minute or so of actual weather information every ten minutes.

What really pisses me off about weather reporting in general is the lack of climate change coverage. On TWC and local news channels, they go on and on about how we are having record temperatures, record precipitation, and record drought but do not ever once suggest why these things are happening. I know, it’s the Weather Channel, not the Climate Channel. Still, these two are inextricably linked with one another and with virtually every other area of our lives, yet climate change gets virtually no coverage on a network that is dedicated to reporting the weather. I would not expect much, maybe something like, “Hey, you know it’s 120ºF in shade because…” It should not be a big deal.

In a television world where shows and news coverage is mediocre at best, one would think that we could get something as basic as weather reporting right. Unfortunately, due to focus groups and TV executives trying to appeal to a “broader audience,” we are left with another shitty, half-assed news channel like CNN, Fox, or MSNBC. Of course there alternatives to finding weather information, such as local news stations, NOAA, and the old standby, looking out the god damned window.


Obligatory Limbaugh post

8 03 2012

I fully realize that this post will be about as time-sensitive as anything, but I feel like it has to be said. Rush Limbaugh has made a name for himself by being an egotistical, overbearing loudmouth. Recently, he said some things that were unbelievably prejudiced against women. In response, there was an enormous public backlash and many of his radio show’s advertisers began backing away. Naturally, this led to Limbaugh’s supporters’ cries of foul play and censorship.

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New media douchebaggery

22 11 2009

I will be plain here. I do not understand how people can call themselves “new media experts” when “new media” has been around in its present form for four or five years. To me, it is like being a guy living in Detroit in 1910 and caliming to be an expert on the automobile industry.

I follow self-proclaimed new media experts on Twitter because they can often provide valuable insights and knowledge into marketing and making connections. I love these people. I think they’re great and I have a lot of respect for them but every time I hear someone talk about how much of an expert, it makes me cringe a little on the inside. It feels as though they are just hopping on a tastefully decorated trendy bandwagon.

Lewis Black said, “I’m the greatest fucker here and all you sniveling shits would die with out me. Hahahaha.” Granted, he was talking about America’s general attitude towards the international community, but I feel it applies here. There is a difference between talking about the merits of social media and what you have learned about it so far and trumping up social media as practically the second coming of Christ.

I apologize if I seemed harsh. It is frustrating, however, to see people referring to themselves as experts in an area that is still in its first few years of existence. “Student of Social Media,” perhaps or “New Media Connoisseur.” Those terms would be a bit less grating. I realize that I am not in a position to tell anyone how to brand themselves. It just makes me cringe to hear people refer to themselves as experts in a field that is still being shaped.

Shame and the media

3 11 2009

Tonight, the IUPUI Freethinkers had their weekly meeting. The topic this week was the media. The ultimate consensus was that the media has developed some serious, deep-seated issues.

Extremism sells and most news outlets are corporate entities or owned by corporate entities. This is the unfortunate truth. Unfortunately, extremism does not make for good reporting. It does not serve the American people well. Until we start demanding en masse decent, in-depth reporting, we simply will not get it from the corporate interests that own our media.

Fox News and MSNBC both engage in the presentation of polar extremes as rational, mainstream methods of political thought. The truth is, they are not even close. They are political extremes that do not inform the populace or encourage civil discourse. They are simply talking heads. They just make noise.

Since ideologues in the media come down on issues so cleanly and predictably, however, politicians can make them part of their strategies. Politicians, in particularly fierce races like last fall’s Presidential race, can fine tune their arguments to divide and polarize the American public, to create dichotomy where none need exist.

It is necessary that we as a nation stand up and announce that we have the right to clear, concise and in-depth news reporting. We deserve to hear the whole story without major facts and events being cherry-picked to suit some egotist’s or capitalist’s agenda. We need to know what is going on out there. We cannot just trust that the people with the loudest voices will let us know what is really going on.

The Daily Show – “For Fox Sake”