Met fired after speaking out on air against company’s “code red” severe weather outlooks

JeremyS

EF2
Mar 12, 2014
170
214
11
Omaha, NE
I’ve been seeing this going around on social media today. The expert(meteorologist) speaks out against the required scary verbiage the news station is having him use on what appears to be a relatively low risk severe weather day and is promptly fired. This station is owned by Sinclair group which was in the news several months ago for their required scripts they had every station read about “fake news”. Sorry all I can find so far is a Facebook link!
 

William Kucharski

Enthusiast
May 16, 2019
2
1
1
Louisville, Colorado
IThis station is owned by Sinclair group which was in the news several months ago for their required scripts they had every station read about “fake news”. Sorry all I can find so far is a Facebook link!
Do you honestly think that every TV station doesn't force staff to read/promote certain products?

However in this case, he's editorializing and really, went way too far.

There are no news reports as stations usually say "If you resign quietly (allowing you to someday work elsewhere in the industry) we'll tell anyone who asks that management decided 'to go another direction.'"
 

KeysWelch

Enthusiast
Apr 8, 2019
1
1
1
Paintsville, KY
I saw the video yesterday and didn't really think he was all that harsh about it. It was more along the lines of "I understand your frustrations, a lot of you have complained and we hear you" sort of thing. Throwing the corporation under the bus was where I'm sure he got into trouble. Admitting that no, our system isn't perfect but keep sending us feedback could be viewed as a PR help, but turning it into an us vs. corporate type thing, suggesting viewers should complain because they won't listen to me was where he got himself in trouble.

He's right, the system isn't perfect and may be viewed as a boy who cried wolf. On the other hand, it may get people who are catching a few minutes of news first thing in the morning on their way out the door to work to pay more attention to the weather later in the day and that may save lives. My local station here issues what they call a "Severe Weather Alert Day" that they'll issue early in the morning or sometimes the day before if they're expecting severe weather, but the purpose is just what I said, to get people to pay more attention to later live reports and advisories, watches, and warnings. Its not designed to incite panic or fear. Code Red is a really bad name for such a system, that puts me more in the mindset of Severe Weather Warning or Tornado Emergency.
 
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Riley A.

Enthusiast
Dec 26, 2018
3
5
1
Pennsylvania
The problem is, when you see the RED ALERT, and then nothing happens, which is very possible considering it was only a slight risk, you'd be more hard pressed to actually care the next time, and the next time could actually be worth it. Having such language is not a good way to get people to "pay more attention," because it's so extreme.

It takes more time to communicate how something is a real threat this time unlike those other times to people who can only catch the news for a few minutes than to tell people to keep an eye out because there's a risk but its not too extreme and save "red alerts" or whatever for when they're necessary.
 

Stephen Sponsler

Enthusiast
May 2, 2019
4
9
1
Cape Canaveral, Florida
There is a conflict then between CODE RED used casually as a means to keep viewer interest (whether legitimate or not) and SPCs Tornado Emergency and/or the NWS Severe Thunderstorm, and Tornado Warning scheme. In the end it could lead to the same old same old - nothing happens at a person's location and the assumption is that the alert was misleading and as a result causing them not to heed a truly imminent situation should it arise in the future. CODE RED ought be limited (unnecessarily) to when events are in Progress with confirmation. Unnecessarily because the proper protocol is already in place.
 
Apr 16, 2017
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10
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richland hills, tx
Was it stupid to go off on live tv about your companies policy? Yes. Was he wrong about his view that it's a type of over hype that should only be used on major event days? No.

People see/hear "code red" and immediate go in to panic mode. Using it for a slight risk day causes people to get the "cry wolf" mentality and they end up ignoring you on actually days that a code red would be valid.
 
Jul 16, 2013
228
119
11
Joplin, MO
As someone who's worked for tv stations since the early 90s, I am appalled, but not surprised. Sinclair is the worst....but you shouldn't bite the hand that feeds you and the family. Don't like the policy? Move on to some other station.
I also worked in TV from 1999 to 2003 and I agree. He doesn't agree with the Code Red thing, but it's a battle you do behind the scene, off air and out of public view. Going on TV and blasting the company that employs you is a quick way of getting fired. I feel the guy's frustration because when you work in TV, consultants come in and stirs up all these dumb ideas with management and then they get implemented and you're then forced to go along with it regardless of how dumb it is. Gimmicks like this Code Red thing is something that eventually falls to the wayside after a year or so and the station moves on away from it.
 
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rdale

EF5
Mar 1, 2004
6,976
497
21
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Lansing, MI
skywatch.org
Do you honestly think that every TV station doesn't force staff to read/promote certain products?
I worked at 3 over 12 years and none of them ever required me to in any way alter my forecast. Now when we got live radar we had to start EVERY newscast regardless if we've been in a drought for 3 weeks with it :) But I was never forced to read or endorse any products.
 
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Reactions: David Petri
Jun 18, 2017
42
20
11
Tennessee
Sorry if that’s long, TL: DR at end. After reading these to get some context... I would agree with the meteorologist (though railing on live TV isn’t the best way to approach the issue) since it’s Slight Risk for area in question... most of time with Slight Risk... yes, the storms tend to be severe sometimes but not particularly intense save for few cases with very isolated but quite powerful storms... so Code Red for Slight Risk seems unnecessary. With the stations I normally watch, they don’t usually go Code Red or something similar unless there’s at least Enhanced Risk, especially with overnight events. If they add Code Red for let’s say Moderate Risk, potential major ice storm, or prolonged period of moderate to heavy rainfall with no break, I get it. Slight Risk? Well that’s little overboard. I had few of my favorite stations go crazy one time when Knoxville got flash flood emergency in February earlier this year, and it made sense. However, they can still go Code Red on Slight Risk days when something unexpected happened. For example, we had a derecho pass through in East Tennessee on May 27, 2017. It was Slight Risk with no hatching for significant severe for E. TN then, but the station went Code Red that night when the approaching bow echo reintensified unexpectedly (as best as I can remember). I was at home while my little brothers were sleeping, and I’ve been watching the radar on livestream to kill some time so I can watch lightning show in a bit. My parents were out for some time. It was typical severe weather coverage, no panic or anything but just informing viewers on livestream about severe thunderstorm warnings. After bow echo crossed plateaus, winds went from 60ish mph to hurricane-force prompting the weather broadcaster to push Code Red at last minutes when radar started to show 70+, some 80+ mph winds and turd started to hit the fan. It resulted into widespread damages and power outages from 70-80+ mph winds (as determined by NWS meteorologists and indicated by radar too). Some areas became tent cities since so many trees fell. My parents just got back home in nick of time when power flickered and the power pole across the street went ka-blooney. So... launching Code Red was appropriate for that situation despite Slight Risk since there’s an unexpected intensification.

TL: DR- Agree with weatherman about Code Red on Slight Risk days, but there should be a few exceptions. Started off with “code yellow” Slight Risk with no hatching for significant severe in E. TN. on 5/27/17, bow echo unexpectedly intensified after weakening briefly and produced widespread 70-80+ mph winds in the region. Stations went code red at last minute. Derecho caused widespread damage and outages. Can’t make this s**t up.
 
May 2, 2010
186
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Springfield, IL
The TV station in question serves my area, though I didn't watch it over the air very often (dropped cable years ago). Crain was well liked by many people in central Illinois and after he was let go a whole bunch of local businesses withdrew their advertising from the station. He has NOT been rehired; the "agreement" to "move on from their dispute" is generally being interpreted as Channel 20's ploy to get the local advertisers back on board.... but I don't think they are in any hurry to do so.

While Crain did have a point about Code Red being overused, the fact remains that in just about any media job, if you tick off the managers/publishers/owners they have NO obligation to keep employing you.
 
May 2, 2010
186
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Springfield, IL
Update: Crain has a new job -- but not in the weather field.

"SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — A Springfield meteorologist fired in June for criticizing his TV station’s severe weather-alert brand has been hired at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.
The (Springfield) State Journal-Register reports that Joe Crain will be the $75,000-a-year director of public programs at the Springfield institution.
Museum director Alan Lowe says Crain will oversee the facility’s public events. The job will include developing ideas for public programming, logistics and marketing.
Crain was a WICS-TV staff meteorologist for 15 years when on the air June 5 he agreed with public complaints that “Code Red” weather alerts were overused and caused undue concern. Crain noted it was an initiative of WICS owner Sinclair Broadcast Group."

(The ALPLM is a State of Illinois facility, unlike other presidential museums that are established by private foundations.)
 
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