February 8, 2013

The New York Times
As a massive winter storm begins to hammer New York and New England, a line of defense is forming: meteorologists who won’t call the storm “Nemo,” the Weather Channel’s name for it.

“Not on your life,” says WJLA-TV meteorologist Bob Ryan. “We’re not using that arbitrary name for the storm. It’s meaningless,” says Washington Post weather editor Jason Samenow (resolve at the paper’s Capital Weather Gang did not prove as strong). “No, we will not be using that,” said a person who answered the phone on the assignment desk at Boston’s WCVB. “I won’t do it. LOL,” David Epstein, who writes a weather blog for The Boston Globe, tells Poynter in an email.

The airwaves, printways and CMSes of affected areas may remain Nemo-free, but there’s one sphere where the name is bandied about freely: Social media.

Because… how else can you browse tweets about this thing?

The fact is that Twitter needs a hashtag,” Weather Channel meteorologist Bryan Norcross told The New York Times’ Brian Stelter. Stelter notes that “much to the chagrin of the National Weather Service,” airlines and other info sources “are all playing along, publishing advisories with the Nemo name.”

In New York, the Bloomberg administration is using the tag. The Boston Business Journal caved. Boston Mayor Tom Menino is using #BoSnow, but really, how long can he hold out?”

The particular genius of the Weather Channel’s winter-storm naming, no matter how much it drives other weather professionals nuts, is that it forces dissenters to come up with something equally sticky. And it’s a little late to get a “-pocalypse” or a “-geddon” ending to catch on.

The Weather Channel’s site is currently a playground for the term, which appears in nine places on its homepage as I write this. TWC’s use of all-caps is also rightly a matter of concern for Gawker’s Caity Weaver, but that piece of media criticism may not get a lot of play this weekend.

Weather coverage advisory

If previous large weather events are anything to go on, the storm will once again test social media’s “immune system,” as my coworker Jeff Sonderman wrote in a memorable piece after Hurricane Sandy last fall. “On Twitter, sharks swam the streets of New Jersey and ominous thunderstorm fronts rolled across the New York skyline,” Sonderman wrote.

And of course, CNN and the Weather Channel (them again!) reported that the New York Stock Exchange was underwater.

So don’t get snowed! Take it from Poynter corrections czar Craig Silverman: Check “Is Twitter wrong?,” and read Silverman’s presentation about “B.S. Detection for Digital Content.”

It would be this blogger’s great pleasure to not have to write about your news organization this weekend.

Finally, please marvel at the cover of today’s New York Daily News:

Courtesy of the Newseum.

But the “That’s what she said” headline award for this storm goes to the Globe:

Courtesy of the Newseum

Related: Some meteorologists skeptical about Weather Channel’s plan to name winter storms | The 6 criteria for hype & why Hurricane Irene coverage does not meet them | Australian Police Turn to Twitter #Mythbusting During Floods (TechPresident) | Boston Stations Remember Blizzard of ’78 (TV Spy) | Storm names “cheap ploy for TV ratings,” says Washington, D.C., editor fighting “Nemo” on Twitter (Gothamist)

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Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at TBD.com and managing editor of Washington City…
Andrew Beaujon

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