ABC News chief meteorologist Ginger Zee appeared at the 2019 NAB Show – New York keynote session this morning, and was asked by NAB president and CEO Gordon H. Smith about next generation television geo-targeting, and how it effects her work as a television broadcaster.
“Survey after survey shows that people really count on broadcasters to get it right, to be the place you go for rescue, relief, recovery,” Smith remarked. “All of those things require us to be accurate first and foremost. And yet our ability to do that more effectively seems to be enhanced with technology. And one of those is the next generation television, and geo-targeting. How do you see that playing out with your work?”
Zee spoke about when she went to then-ABC News president Ben Sherwood and explained to him how she endeavored to change how the broadcast network covered weather, looking ahead of the storm, and “day of,” as opposed to just focusing on the aftermath.
“As someone who has always watched ABC, I did notice that they weren’t getting ahead of the storm; often it was not much more than a ‘damage chase’ where they would show up after the storm and tell the stories, which is critically important, because that’s the humanity of what the storm is,” said Zee. “But I told Ben Sherwood early on, ‘I think I can go in and change this up.’ I can go in there and say, ‘Hey, this is the specific area were it’s going to happen,’ chase that the day of, show the power, have the amazing video, and then do the human stories afterward.”
She added: “I think we’ve gotten much better at doing that in my time here. But I think what this [geo-targeting] is going to help us do is make sure that those people that need to hear it, hear it.”
Zee spoke about other ways in which network meteorology has changed with her at the helm.
“The network level meteorology has not been meteorology,” said Zee. “In years past, people would see me and say: ‘That’s the weather girl from Good Morning America.’ I always correct them and tell them that I’m actually a meteorologist. I went to school for this. At a local level, I feel like that’s been learned a little bit more, and it has changed a lot sooner. I am the first woman to ever be a chief meteorologist at a network, and I’m one of the first scientists to ever be at a network. It’s something I’m very proud of but it’s been a painstaking process of kind of saying, ‘here’s where we were when I first came in,’ and there were a lot of times where they would just make up words. I came in and I’m 100% known as “the accuracy police.’ “I’m proud of doing that, and I think our producers are really receptive.”