A lot is being made of the finding that weather news far outpaces news of other topics in importance in daily lives (ital added). It’s not surprising to anyone who has been paying attention. A local television station manager once told me that his viewers cared about three things, in this order: “Weather, more weather and tomorrow’s forecast.”
Note the “daily lives” context: The day’s weather affects everyone in immediate ways that crime, local government or schools don’t.
My first job at the News & Record was as the city editor of the afternoon paper, which was in the process of being shutdown. My priority was to have at least one new story for the afternoon readers that wasn’t in the morning edition. If nothing was happening, my fallback was a weather story. You’d be surprised how many different ways there are to report “it’s sunny outside!”
I soon realized that daily newspapers couldn’t compete with local television on weather, and we stopped doing much with it unless the story was dramatic. I wonder if local television will soon go through a similar evolution because I have an app, Dark Sky, that gives me the weather in as much depth as I need.