Meteorologist James Spann Attributes Success of Tornado Coverage to Volunteer Videographers

By Andrew Gauthier Comment

“If you can show a live tornado with a camera, there’s no doubt that people will react in a more urgent way,” said ABC 33/40 meteorologist James Spann, whose in-depth coverage of Alabama’s brutal tornadoes has been admired by newsers across the country this week.

In a recent interview with The New York Times, Spann said that live video of the tornado system, much of it shot by volunteers, made the difference in ABC 33/40’s (WCFT-WJSU-WBMA) coverage. Here’s the Times:

Live video of tornado touchdowns is a relatively new phenomenon, one that has been made possible by extensive mobile access to the Internet. In Birmingham, WBMA recruits and trains volunteers to follow severe thunderstorms and act as spotters, complete with dashboard cameras linked via the Internet to the station.

“They’re just like an extension of what we do,” Spann said of the volunteer videographers.