Weather.com Sensationalist “We’re Doomed” Homepage Is Actually A Thing

My friend Andrew pointed me to a joke homepage parodying Weather.com he found on Reddit (here’s the thread for context). It looks like this:

reddit-joke

It’s perhaps amusing to some as a parody (if this is the type of thing that amuses you) because it is an ongoing joke that Weather.com and other media feels a need to sensationalize stories for pageviews.

Until you go to the actual Weather.com and see, in fact, the homepage looks just like this:

Screen Shot 2014-04-29 at 11.47.25 AM

It’s nearly as sensationalist as the parody and clearly designed to illicit fear from readers instead of presenting any type of helpful information. Instead of helpful info, a majority of it is rubbernecking as witnessed by the storm chaser story and butter bar telling me to “WATCH LIVE” against the horrific outbreak / death story and the 75 million at risk threat. Ignore the fact that Weather.com knows I am in San Francisco so the big red warnings are not the right things to show. Perhaps instead of telling me 75 million people are at risk, if it really wants to lead with this story they should have some sort of call to action for me to help those folk. That would be a much more positive approach here as opposed to simply draping their homepage in carnage.

As someone who grew up in South Florida and been through multiple hurricanes I have personally seen the media hype the weather for viewers. They would always try and find the palm tree that looked the most dramatic, ignoring what the actual conditions were. Look we get it can be bad, but throwing fear on top of that isn’t helpful. Providing tips on what to do for those in risk, reassurance and not throwing flames on the fire is a better approach.

I understand they need to do something for pageviews but is this really what we want for the most popular weather domain? It wont’ be long before this is a thing.