Yes the winter of 2010-2011has been active with snowstorms in the northeast, nearly every week since winter began, but is it really the worst winter ever recorded?? Hardly. It was the best for weather stories reported by the news media as they blanketed their newscasts with announcements of weather advisories, snowstorms, power outages, traffic reports, airport delays, and accidents. From the Jersey Shore to New York City, every commuter’s nightmare is hearing about poor road conditions due to bad weather that will delay their ride to work. Unfortunately the news media gloats on any opportunity to announce bad weather reports that include the words “snow, sleet, heavy accumulation, freezing rain, airport delays, state of emergency, storm watch, storm warning, suspended bus service, road closure, black ice, train service disruption, blizzard, etc….. Really no different than any other bad news events – the media loves reporting them because it keeps viewers and listeners tuned in.
For the network news stations the focus on bad weather translates to tv viewer $$ and radio listeners $$. Why else would they send their reporters on location to highly populated neighborhoods in the metro area to report live? So you will listen to the newsradio stations while driving and watch the newscasts when you get home. After all, the media companies make their money by selling airtime to commercial sponsors for those reports. Newscasters are the best advertisers for businesses that sell any weather related goods or services. It’s no secret that every time a meteorologist announces a storm system coming, seniors citizens flock to the stores to stock up on bread, milk, bottled water, prescriptions, cold medicine and gasoline. Working parents rush to the grocery stores for lunchmeat, deli items and snacks for the kids in case of a school closure.
Here are some other products and services that benefit increased sales during bad weather and snow storms. Nationally advertised brands of food on the grocers shelves usually sell out fast during bad weather like- Eggo waffles, Kelloggs cereals, brand name hot dogs, English muffins, Campbell soup, eggs, Oreos, Chips Ahoy, Ritz crackers, Lays potato chips and bananas- but not apples?? There are items other than food that have increased sales when bad winter weather is reported like- gloves, boots, umbrellas, coats, sweaters, scarfs, DVD’s, movie rentals, online shopping and also high priced products like auto tires, car batteries, snowblowers, vacations, cruises and sales of SUV’s and 4×4’s.
Think about it, New York City alone has 8 million residents. When the media can capture that many viewers and listeners interest for a 10-12 hour period and deliver live coverage of a weather event by the minute, this is very POWERFUL. As with all major stories the media will keep broadcasting the same report over and over until we are sick of hearing it and we change the channel. Notice the weather reports as the storm passes and the weatherperson gives the five day forecast- it usually warns of another storm on the way in the next couple of days. This is another way the networks try to keep us tuned in to keep checking when the next storm will hit.
The local municipalities also love the snow news coverage to show us where our tax dollars are being spent and how hard the officials have worked to clear the roads for us. There aren’t many branches of municipal services that can visibly how our tax money is spent. And of course usually by the 3rd snowfall of the season every politician claims to have no more money in the budget for snow removal and salt for the roads.
So the next time you listen to the weather forecast see if you notice how dramatically the announcer reports bad conditions and the way the multimedia companies entice you to tune in on the tv. If bad weather is in the forecast it is usually the opening story on tv stations and a full report later in the newscast to keep you from changing the channel. In the networks marketing and research of viewers like you they have learned you will change the channel frequently to get the weather from another station if a commercial comes on. In turn the major stations have sequenced their commercials to air the same exact time as their competitors so when you switch channels you get a commercial on the next station and hopefully switch back so you don’t miss the current forecast.