Traffic and Weather, Don’t Rush!

By Doug Drew 

Ask viewers in research what they are most interested in a local newscast and they will usually say weather and traffic. But traffic and weather are often poorly produced and often leave the viewer frustrated.


Probably the number one piece of information viewers seek in a weather presentation is the 7 day forecast. For this reason, most stations use the long range forecast as a tool to hold viewers for extended viewing. If a station does “First Weather” high up in the show, the long range forecast is the element that is normally teased for the next weather segment. And where is the long range forecast usually placed in that next weather segment? The very last element. And what almost always happens with any element that is placed last? It gets rushed because time is running short.


I can’t tell you how often I see a 7-day forecast graphic that is on the screen for six seconds or less and often the weather person is standing in front of it. It’s incredibly frustrating for viewers. They finally get to the one segment they want to see, and BAM, it’s off the screen and sports is being teased. There is often no time to digest the entire 7 days.

You HAVE to give the 7-day forecast time to be interpreted by the viewer. This is NOT one place to rush through things.

Just think of all the less significant news vo’s and weather graphics that come before the 7-day forecast that aren’t rushed. Where should the priority be? It has to be the long range forecast.


Also, don’t rush through your traffic reports. This is not the time to sound like one of those radio ads where the announcer has to get through 20 seconds of copy in 7 seconds. One of the biggest complaints about traffic is that the information goes by too quickly. Don’t deliver your information in machine gun style. People aren’t listening as closely as you probably think they are. If time is an issue, better to have less content delivered more clearly than too much information delivered too quickly. It’s not about how much content you deliver, it’s about how helpful you are to your viewer. If they miss much of what you are talking about because it’s too much, too fast, you aren’t serving their needs.

Talk about significant landmarks that people will recognize. People often don’t know streets, but they know where the stadium is, a recognizable bridge, a tall building, or a business.

Clarity is the goal

The goal is to be as clear, and understandable and as helpful as possible. The long range forecast and the traffic segments should be delivered with the viewers in mind. Don’t rush through them.

Doug Drew is a morning news specialist with 602 Communications. You can reach him at