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WeatherBug Q&A: Reader photos strengthen our overall coverage

WeatherBug, a desktop application that streams live weather information and is partnered with more than 100 online news sites, is one of the leading media outlets when it comes to "participatory journalism," or giving consumers a role in the editorial process of reporting news.

In an interview with CyberJournalist.net Publisher Jonathan Dube, the company's product director discusses why Weatherbug recently expanded its local weather news coverage to incorporate photos submitted by users from around the country. "Often our Editorial team will select pictures submitted by our audience and include the picture as part of a news article being written," he says. "A great tie between the amateurs & the our professional meteorologists that only strengthens our overall coverage of weather events."

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WeatherBug just launched expanded local weather news coverage that incorporates photos submitted by users from around the country. Why did you decide to do this and how is it going to work?

WeatherBug Product Director Chris McCown: During Hurricane Isabel, last fall, we invited our users to email in their digital photos of how the storm affected them. The response was overwhelmingly positive. Hundreds of photos were emailed in and posted in WeatherBug. Many users included their comments on the impact of the storm. Due to the success of the event, we decided to turn this into a regular feature on WeatherBug and made it easy for users to submit & view photos. Now we receive hundreds of photos per day from users all around the country... photos of their families out in the weather, photos of their pets in the weather, sunrises, sunsets, snow sculptures and dozens of other categories.

By doing so, you are giving readers an increasing role in the editorial process of reporting news. What steps have you taken to ensure the accuracy and trustworthiness of the information (photos and captions) you are delivering?

McCown: Each photo is reviewed by our editorial staff before it is posted. If photos are questionable, or do not meet our standards, they are not posted. The section is also meant to be fun & entertaining (not hard news). It is a true "community", which means also have to have faith in those participating for it to grow.

The site's photo community section includes a library of thousands of user-uploaded photos and played a role in driving the site's traffic up by 10% since it debuted last year. Why do you think user photos are so popular?

McCown: They are from real-people, in real-life situations... and so many of the photos submitted are simply great pictures. WeatherBug also categories photos in different albums so that the users viewing can easily look at collections of pictures of a subject that interests them. For example, the "Photo Hall of Fame" category, a collection of our picks of the best photos submitted, draws a huge crowd. We also designed the Photos section to be very easy to navigate and spend time in. Users can "escape" (if only briefly) to a mini-trip around the country and they know that each time they visit the section new photos are likely posted.

In what other ways is WeatherBug leveraging its vast user base to help it cover breaking weather news?

McCown: Photos & the comments that are posted with them are the main way users help cover breaking news right now. Often our Editorial team will select pictures submitted by our audience and include the picture as part of a news article being written. A great tie between the amateurs & the our professional meteorologists that only strengthens our overall coverage of weather events.

Any other plans to use "participatory journalism" to help deliver weather news?

McCown: Absolutely. "Participatory journalism" will continue to help drive & shape the WeatherBug. Stay tuned...

How to do you envision "participatory journalism" changing the way the media works in the next 10 years?

McCown: With technology like digital cameras, camera phones, wireless PDAs, chat on cell phones, etc. becoming more-and-more popular, literally millions of people will have easy ways to capture & report on what is happening around them. Personal video cameras capturing major news events and sending tapes to the networks were the craze the past 10 years... journalism".

Mar 09, 2004 | E-MAIL | SAVE | PRINT | PERMALINK | DISCUSS(4)



Discussion

4 comments about 'WeatherBug Q&A: Reader photos strengthen our overall coverage'

I like the Cyberjournalist WeatherBug

Posted by Toni Cimino at October 9, 2004 10:25 PM

I want love the Cyberjournalist WeatherBug

Posted by Toni Cimino at October 28, 2004 10:56 PM

are your viewers able to set a photo as a background or e mail them to someone?

Posted by amanda at December 21, 2004 9:17 AM

new get downlord weatherbug

Posted by derek k point at December 20, 2009 11:38 AM



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