By: David Noack

More Women Look For Online Forecasts

for a complete report on the changing face of weather coverage on
Web sites and in print newspapers, please see this week’s Editor &
Publisher magazine. To subscribe, click here.

by David Noack

Of all the online news topics, such as sports, entertainment, politics,
technology, foreign news, and the weather, which one is the most
popular? If you predicted the weather, you’d be right.

According to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center for the People
and the Press, 66% of people who go online for news end up at weather
Web sites, or the weather sections of newspaper Web sites, to find out
the latest forecast, track a newly named storm, download a weather
program, or view satellite images.

The popularity of the Internet as a source for weather reports ‘is
underscored by growth in the number of women getting online weather,’
says the Pew report. ‘Even as more women have started getting news
online on a regular basis, the share of those women who get weather
updates on the Internet has jumped substantially.’

But you don’t have to tell that to Ricardo Cheriel. He already knows
weather content is a key part of online news sites. Cheriel, senior
producer for Tribune Interactive, the online division of the
Chicago-based Tribune Co., provides content for the company’s newspaper
and TV Web sites, and he knows weather is hot.

He’s also in charge of WeatherPoint, a product of Tribune Media Services,
which is sold to newspapers that want customized local weather content
for their Web sites. It features current weather conditions and extended
forecasts for more than 1,000 U.S. cities and more than 200 international
cities. Current weather conditions are updated hourly; forecasts are
updated three times a day.

‘We also have satellite and radar maps, updated every half-hour, covering
the U.S. and other regions of the world,’ reports Cheriel. Time-lapse
radar images show the movement of weather patterns. Print newspapers, of
course, have no ability to update their daily forecasts.

Stormy weather may be bad for business and vacation planning, but it
spells increased Web traffic. ‘Any type of severe weather drives our
weather traffic higher,’ Cheriel notes. ‘Hurricanes are especially popular
with users. Our sites in Florida have seen their weather traffic increase
50 times normal levels when a hurricane threatens the U.S. coastline.’
When Hurricane Floyd skirted Florida’s east coast last year, the Web sites
of The Orlando Sentinel and the Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale each had
roughly 250,000 page views daily on Floyd-related stories, maps, and
emergency preparedness information.

SRDS is a subsidiary of VNU USA, which also owns E&P


David Noack is a free-lancer based in upstate New York.

(c) Copyright 2000, Editor & Publisher

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