Critics Take Aim At The Best Meteorologists In Social Media

Top 100 list creates uproar over the idea that TV meteorologists use social media better than non-TV peers

Meteorologists are among the heaviest users of social media – and with good reason. Their duty is to forecast the weather, and the rise of social media has given them a powerful means to alert the public, as well as gather photos and intelligence from citizen weather watchers.

It’s somewhat of a calling. And one taken very seriously – as we found out within minutes of taking to Twitter with our list of 100 meteorologists best leveraging social media on the job. During August and September, 2016, TheSocReports analyzed the activity, engagement, best practices and fan base of nearly 8,000 meteorologists active in the social space. Once the news broke, the chosen 100 celebrated with much social style:

 

Andrew Freiden, Emily Roehler and Ada Monzón all work in the media. In fact, everyone who made the cut – excluding a couple of storm chasers – make a living in broadcasting, digital or cable. That fact was noticed almost immediately by meteorologists who don’t.

What’s a meteorologist anyway?

We also learned that even though someone gets a ‘degree’ in meteorology, he or she may or may not be considered a ‘real meteorologist’ depending on level of science they studied and the rigor of the program. One meteorologist (working in TV ironically) protested to us privately, declaring that ‘most’ of the people on the list were not meteorologists at all and just ‘faces,’ arguing that they hadn’t taken tough courses like atmospheric physics. We had opened a can of weather worms, so to speak.

It turns out that the debate over what qualifies a person to be a meteorologist has raged in the profession for some time. Putting these people of various ages and backgrounds on a social pedestal just stirred the pot.  Regardless of their level of higher education, it bears noting that a lot of people (not to mention their employer) have found them to be credible at weather forecasting. This isn’t an easy one – and everyone we’ve spoken to on the subject says there’s no clear answer (“Experience counts too.”).

Only 7-9% of meteorologists work in TV. “So how could this be an accurate outcome?”

Okay, so it’s possible there were social media pros in the private or government sectors we had missed and not included in the original data set of nearly 8,000. We asked Dr. Marshall Shepherd, director of the Atmospheric Sciences Program at the University of Georgia and past president of the American Meteorological Society, for help.

 

 

Dr. Shepherd wrote a thoughtful piece outlining his concerns about the lopsided result, including lamenting that more men than women on the list have ‘chief’ in their title. Read his blog at Forbes.

A former co-worker of mine, Bob Butler, former president of the National Association of Black Journalists, was stunned by the lack of diversity. He asked me, “Is this a function of few people of color studying meteorology?” According to Pew Research, blacks, whites and Hispanics are equally active on social media (about 80% of those online).

More research ahead

We truly appreciate the feedback – and gladly fielded several emails and DMs on Twitter from those who had questions about their own ranking. (Our apologies to Kevin Roth, meteorologist at KDAF-TV in Dallas, for initially getting his call letters wrong.)

Thanks to Dr. Shepherd and friends on Twitter, we’ve collected another 50 or so names.  They’re included in another post on 76 people and institutional accounts – some well known, others not – for anyone seeking weather information on Twitter. Our team is taking a look, and you can expect to see adjustments to the list if it turns out anyone fell through the cracks. As they say in TV, stay tuned.

TheSocReports logoAbout TheSocReports

TheSocReports believes social media isn’t an art. It’s science. Like a meteorologist tracks the weather, we monitor trends and data in social media. TheSocReports analyzes performance and metrics, compares users to their defined competitors, provides tips, education and suggestions based on activity and inspiration. TheSocReports empowers customers through a blend of personal training and data science to help them succeed in social media by seeing what they’re doing and eliminate the risk of a marginal online presence.

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