WeatherWatch CEO criticises mainstream news reports of incoming wet weather

WeatherWatch CEO criticises mainstream news reports of incoming wet weather

Recent news headlines are suggesting that much of the country could be in for quite a drenching, with forecasters expecting a looming weather system to bring up to double the average amount of rain this April.

WeatherWatch CEO Phil Duncan delves into the sensationalism prevalent in weather forecasting media and the challenges of fair competition in New Zealand's commercial sectors. 

He discusses the hyperbolic coverage of an incoming weather system dubbed the 'atmospheric river' which is expected to bring heavy rain to Westland, potentially double the normal amount for April. 

Duncan emphasises the need for precise, localised weather reporting, as sensational headlines can cause unnecessary panic, especially when the rain may be beneficial for drought-stricken areas. He critiques the media's dramatic language and lack of clarity.

"It's like saying headline news there are big waves at sea. It's kind of like, yeah, that happens." 

"I don't get so angry now. Now I just tend to kind of mock it and think it's hilarious that we live in such a rich country that we can afford to have two government weather forecasters battling it out for the biggest hype." 

He points out the redundancies within government-funded weather services, such as MetService and NIWA, and their tendency to overhype weather events, overshadowing the more conservative tone of MetService's language. 

The conversation then shifts to the topic of unfair competition in New Zealand, highlighting the struggle between private businesses and government-funded entities. Duncan recounts the tale of Kiwi Airlines and how it was overshadowed by Air New Zealand's subsidiary, Freedom Air. After Freedom Air dissolved, airfares in the country surged. He parallels this with the media industry, where TV3 faces financial hurdles against the better-funded TVNZ, and his own Weatherwatch competing with MetService and NIWA. 

"It does seem unfair and wrong that businesses in this country trying to help people have the biggest competitor being the government's commercial arm, which no one can compete with." 

The conversation illuminates the challenges faced by small businesses in a landscape where they compete against larger, state-funded corporations, and the need for responsible, localised weather reporting that eschews the trend of sensationalism for factual accuracy.

Listen to the full chat between Phil Duncan and Dominic George above.

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