What took them so long?

You’d think global warming and climate change would be topic #1 at the Weather Channel, but they’ve only just now announced that they’re going to make it the focus.

The Atlanta-based Weather Channel said it’s committed to tackling climate change with more vigor than it ever has.

In an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Nora Zimmett, The Weather Channel’s chief content officer and executive vice president, said they are “doubling down on climate. Climate and weather coverage are completely linked. It’s the most important topic of not just our generation, but generations to come. We have a front seat.”

She said the channel has been addressing the subject for years but not on a regular basis. “We intend to do that now,” she said. “American sentiment only recently caught up with the urgency of the issue. Years ago, our audience didn’t want to hear about it. They are much more interested in it now.”

I guess I’m not their audience, because I’d have liked to have heard more about it 40 years ago. Maybe they’re just now catching up with me?

I also immediately wondered why now, what’s changed, why weren’t they on top of this years ago? The reporter read my mind.

When Zimmett informed the owner and media mogul Byron Allen about the shift, he told her, “Why didn’t you do this sooner?

“He is the biggest advocate for climate coverage and environmental justice coverage,” she said.

Since Allen’s Entertainment Studios purchased the station for $300 million in 2018 from NBCUniversal, Zimmett has noticed his positive impact. “Byron rewards good ideas,” she said. “He’s not big on red tape and bureaucracy. This funnels down to every level. If you’re an associate producer with a great idea to shoot a story, you come up with a reasonable budget and schedule, we say, ‘Go do it!’ I’ve worked at places where they say, ‘Stay in your lane.’ Byron fosters an entrepreneurial attitude. It’s a really exciting place to be.”

You know, that doesn’t answer the question. Telling me the owner is also asking why they didn’t emphasize climate change sooner doesn’t explain why they didn’t.


  1. Akira MacKenzie says

    Assuming the reporter recognized that as a non-answer (and I don’t think they’re training journalists to do that anymore), at this stage the reporter has too options:

    1) Point out that it was a load of corporate-speak that didn’t address the question, thus resulting in an immediate end to the interview followed by an angry call to the newspaper’s CEO from the company’s CE. The offending reporter ends up fired.

    2) Just write what they say.

  2. bugmeat says

    The Weather Channel didn’t talk about climate change until 2018 because that’s when the founder, John Coleman, died. He was a climate change denier. He was regularly on FoxNews spouting blather.

  3. daved says

    John Coleman, one of the Weather Channel founders, is a major climate change denier. However, the Weather Channel is now owned by IBM.

  4. says

    You know, that doesn’t answer the question. Telling me the owner is also asking why they didn’t emphasize climate change sooner doesn’t explain why they didn’t.

    True, but you’re missing the fact that she is saying the NEW owner is asking that. Guy buys company two years ago, guy creates new corporate culture where people are no longer expected to “stay in [their] lane”, company creates new climate change initiative. I think this is a highly revealing answer to the question.

    I think that what’s being said here is this:

    NBCUniversal penalized people for covering climate change. New management came in, and it took a couple years, but people realize that it’s now okay to cover the topic.

    They’re just not wording things that explicitly because high level corpspeak is frequently constructed more out of fear of defamation law than out of respect for the truth.

  5. says

    John Coleman was a founder, but only worked at the Weather Channel for a year or two in the early 1980s.

    The Weather Company was owned buy a consortium made up of Bain Capital, Blackstone Group & NBCUniversal when everything except the Weather Channel was sold to IBM in 2016.

    Since the climate change position changed after selling off the Weather Channel to Entertainment Studios, Inc. in 2018, I assume it was Bain Capital, Blackstone Group & NBCUniversal that were responsible for the previous policy of not seriously covering climate change.

  6. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    Aside from Coleman being a denier. I could see it plausible that they wanted to “stay in their lane”, of reporting the weather and forecasts, and stay out of casting blame about people influencing the weather conditions by overusing energy from fossil fuels.
    In short, [only report, do not go into controversy]
    I am not excusing, only speculating about plausible explanations.
    My tolerance is too much

  7. Rich Woods says

    “American sentiment only recently caught up with the urgency of the issue.”

    Translation: Our advertisers have finally started asking questions about the possibility of better greenwash alignment for their clients.

  8. says

    @#11, Rich Woods:

    Don’t forget “some of the very rich people living in the Pacific Northwest, who thought they personally would never have to deal with the problem, just got a belated bulletin last week that yes, this effects them, too.”