Monday, June 11, 2012

Banish weather forecasters

click photo to enlarge
In the UK, over the years, the profile of the TV weather forecaster has risen to the point where they are now seen as familiar figures with names and "personalities". Their exposure to the public now goes well beyond telling us about the weather and exchanging a few cheery banalities with the news presenters when their spot has ended. Some undertake public engagements, others feature in newspaper and magazine articles. Their dress, utterances, private lives and more are presented to the public by the media with the assumption that we will be interested. How has this change come about?

There seems to be, on the part of television in particular, a desire to make the weather forecast more exciting, more interesting, something to stay tuned for rather than a respite from regular programming when the audience might go off and make a cup of tea. The presenters themselves have been complicit in this. The problem with it is not just the flim-flam associated with the cult of personality: more importantly the weather forecasts are regularly skewed as a consequence. So, wet weather is presented as "bad", hot sunny weather as "good" or to use the favoured description of one male BBC presenter, "glorious". Of course, quite a few sectors of society (farmers, ice cream sales people, gardeners, etc) will not share this point of view but they seem of little consequence. Continuing "bad weather" is often reported with relish to the point where the forecaster appears to adopt the guise of a Jeremiah. Then there's the technology; the swooping camera, the animated symbols, and the specific forecast for whatever is the current newsworthy sports event. If the weather is stable (or in the presenter's eyes, "boring") the forecast is often livened up by a report about extreme weather somewhere else in the world. Why we need to know about Indonesian typhoons, mid-western tornadoes, droughts in Australia, or flooding in Bangladesh during the UK weather forecast just because the presenter needs to "sex it up" a bit, I really don't know. My answer is to banish the presenters, to have a simple voice-over connected to a visual presentation of the current weather and the weather that is anticipated for the next twenty four hours. That way we might get a little more sanity in the forecast and people might take notice of it rather than the wide-eyed, enthusiastic, over-gesticulating presenter.

Today we went to Peterborough to do a little shopping. The weather forecast was accurate I'm happy to report and we had the anticipated rain. I hope tomorrow the dry weather that was promised materialises because I have some hedges to trim. The subject of today's photograph is the Old Guildhall of 1671 in the Market Place at Peterborough. It is flanked by the church of St John the Baptist which was rebuilt in 1402-7 from the material of the old church and the nave of the now no longer extant, St Thomas. I used the medieval Outer Gate of the cathedral precinct as shelter from the rain as I took my photograph of the damp scene.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 84mm
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/100
ISO: 200
Exposure Compensation:  -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On