Editorial: The new mediums have a message - listen to us

Cyclone Cook packed a punch in some areas in New Zealand. Photo / Paul Taylor
Cyclone Cook packed a punch in some areas in New Zealand. Photo / Paul Taylor

Twenty five years ago, as New Zealand charged through a swag of market reforms, economists briefly held an exulted status in the nation's daily dialogue.

They were regarded as high priests of commentary, if not always commonsense. As the economic upheavals receded, so too did the voices of financial analysis.

The new mediums - at least this autumn - are meteorologists. Whereas we might once have got by with Jim Hickey or Karen Olsen after the 6 o'clock news, the go-to weather people are on Twitter and Facebook.

Hickey and Olsen both knew their isobars from their isotherms but were confined to their broadcast medium.

With rivers rising, slips blocking roads and storm surges churning along the coastline for the best part of two weeks, demand has exploded for instant forecasts. On Thursday morning, with predictions that Auckland yet again lay in the path of "extreme weather", MetService was trending on Google, meaning the lousy outlook was a hot topic.

The hunger for weather reports has partly been answered by the likes of Lisa Murray at MetService, New Yorker Chris Brandalino at NIWA and Philip Duncan at WeatherWatch. The Irish Murray has been everywhere and cautioned New Zealand that Cyclone Cook would pack a punch.

"It is bad," she warned, in purposeful but distinctly unmeteorological language. Her words had a point. "I do have concerns that people have had enough of the weather, that people are going 'this is just another storm'," she explained.

Except that Cook wasn't. "We need people to sit up and listen." The lesson from Murray, and the other forecasters, is that it's better to be safe than sorry.

- NZ Herald

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