Here’s the list of this week’s most popular stories on The Weather Channel’s Web site:
Notice anything missing?
The top 10 stories on weather.com have nothing to do with weather. If you didn’t know any better, you could confuse Weather.com for a travel or nature site.
It’s not that Weather.com doesn’t offer weather stories, it’s just that people aren’t clicking on them. So it has adapted and serves up a bigger dose of stories on “scary”, “ghostly”, “bizarre” and “rad” topics to compensate.
“America loves a good apocalypse,” Weather.com’s editor-in-chief Neil Katz told BuzzFeed in October.
Katz learned through trial and error that the masses don’t want to read about the weather when it’s boring.
“…there are lots of days of the year where there aren’t serious weather events and we want to bring readers on a journey,” Katz told BuzzFeed. “We want it to be a spectacle of sorts and want to really surprise people. We’re psyched about how the audience has responded. Page views have doubled year over year.”
A cynic would say Weather.com’s compromising its identity for clicks. But its view is that it’s capturing its visitors’ imagination and giving them the content they crave.
In the BuzzFeed interview, Katz stressed the weather content will always be there.
“If you just want to focus on the weather, that’s fine!,” Katz said. “For the rest, I say, go on a ride with us and give us a few minutes and have a few clicks. If you don’t love it, well then we’re grateful you come for the forecast, but so far a vast majority seem to dig. it.”
Cloudy with a chance of amazeballs: The Weather Channel is reinventing itself for the digital age (Columbia Journalism Review)