Tim Russert's whiteboard is in the Smithsonian. I'm not making that up.
Last week I was talking with a network photog about the good old simple days of television, and the discussion went around to weather. Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth many stations had giant maps of the United States with velcro weather symbols. You could peel and stick an "H", an "L", a sun with a smiley face, or an angry cloud with a lightning bolt anywhere on the map.
And after talking about those features, the weatherperson gave the forecast.
Bottom line, it's the same forecast weather people deliver today. And it was a lot less confusing.
The other day I saw a weather guy showing off one of those touch screen chromakey whatevers during his forecast. He touched the map, the clouds went vertical, the colors went crazy...
It looked like a four-year-old went wild with fingerpaint. And unless you had a degree in meteorology, you had no idea what the heck he was showing. Or what the forecast was.
Until the end of the segment when the graphic showed the days of the week, the highs and lows, and a bunch of suns. No different than the days of velcro maps.
There's a reason viewers loved Russert's whiteboard and Beck's chalkboard. It's because those guys made things simple to understand, like a teacher in a classroom. Yes, bells and whistles are nice, but if you don't have content, you don't have nothin'.
Stations love to show off electronic features. But all the technology in the world won't save you if you can't deliver the message in easy to understand terms. Strip out all the electronic features, and you'd better have the information that viewers want.
Bottom line, it's all about information and the people who deliver it.