(In)Consistency in a Social Media World: Communication Reflections of the 2017 Hurricane Season

Sunday, 7 January 2018, 12:00 p.m.–3:45 p.m.
Austin Convention Center 10AB
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Consistency. con·sist·en·cy
Noun 1. Conformity in the application of something, typically that which is necessary for the sake of logic, accuracy, or fairness.

AMS President, Matt Parker, who sadly passed earlier this year, had a vision to bring the weather community together for a workshop to discuss communication challenges and best practices. In light of his vision and to honor him, a communication workshop titled, “(In)Consistency in a Social Media World: Communication Reflections of the 2017 Hurricane Season” will be held on Sunday, 7 January 2018 from 12:30pm to 3:30pm preceding the Presidential Forum and the 98th AMS Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas. More information on the conference and preliminary programs can be found on the AMS Website (https://annual.ametsoc.org/2018/). To register for this workshop, please go to the following website, https://www.ametsoc.org/meet/atreg/. Our workshop is the second to the bottom in the list.


The 2017 hurricane season presented unprecedented risks from rapid intensification to historical amounts of rain to the longest lasting category 5 hurricane. Despite these unprecedented events, the weather enterprise was in lock step tracking the forecast, providing the latest updates, and communicating risks. From a meteorological perspective, the community should feel proud of their accomplishments.

From a public perspective, however, what does weather communication look like? With a strong #wxtwitter presence, for example, does a consistent weather message become lost in a sea of tweets? With the rise of social media and a 24/7 media environment, is there now a signal to noise issue? Can our publics sift through the abundance of weather information to find the relevant risk information they need? In particular, does the lack of chronology on Facebook and twitter make it difficult to know at what time a message is relevant versus out of date? If yes, how? Does it lead to a perception of inconsistency to an otherwise coordinated weather communication effort? The medium is changing our weather message.

Due to the mass availability of weather information and mobile-based devices, the consistency of weather messaging has become a growing concern for the weather enterprise. Appearing in policy documents and AMS statements, for example, our community is elevating the importance of achieving consistency for both internal and external communication. The challenge, however, is that the idea of “consistency,” within the weather community, remains a formidable hurdle, and each discussion only adds more complexity to the issue. At the forefront is that we do not share the same definition of consistency nor can we adequately describe what it looks like

For example, imagine a world where all broadcast meteorologists, private weather industries, and NWS offices shared the exact same verbal message with the exact same look and feel with only a logo making them distinct. Is this what the weather community is trying to achieve? The answer is undoubtedly, no. So, what do we mean by this concept called consistency? Should we aim to achieve it, and if so, how do we in our social media world?

The goal of this workshop is to discuss these challenges in the context of this year’s hurricane season and the use of social media and create some best practices for our field, identify areas of potential research, and come together as a community to reflect on our communication challenges and our successes.

Who should attend? All diverse perspectives from emergency managers, broadcasters, the NWS, weather industry, and academia. Students and young professionals are encouraged to attend. We encourage people from all backgrounds to participate as your expertise will only improve the discussion.

Why should I attend? Help us define “consistency” from a community perspective (Take a survey to help us: https://tinyurl.com/wxconsistency), examine the role that social media plays in our community, and come up with best practices and research priority areas. Topics could include: graphics and their look and feel differences; how lack of chronology on social media may give the appearance of inconsistent messaging; how sharing deterministic vs ensemble model information may promote inconsistent messages about uncertainty.

What’s the format? The workshop will have two primary components. An expert panel will help to spark new ideas and ways of thinking about (in)consistency in a social media world, and then participants will break into groups to discuss ways to address the challenges presented.

For more information please contact Castle Williams at the University of Georgia, 210 Field St. Rm. 204, Athens, GA, 30605 (email: castleaw@uga.edu).  

Short Course/Workshop Registration

All short course/workshop attendees must register and wear a badge/ribbon. Short course/workshop registration is not included in the 98th Annual Meeting registration, and short course/workshop registration does not include registration for the 98th AMS Annual Meeting.

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