Fear Sells: A Reminder

My usual source for weather information is the National Weather Service’s rather nice site weather.gov. It shows everything from the basic forecast to detailed hourly forecasts in graphic and text formats. This was having issues loading at one point today (load/use, I presume), so I headed over to The Weather Channel at weather.com to use their services.

While I was able to find forecast information, and I did see some of the expected advertising, the most obvious headlines on the main page were far more fear mongering than I’d anticipated — enough to make me really take notice of how much fear is being used to sell:

  • WARNING: Up to 72 Inches of Snow Ahead? (Scary magenta weather map!)
  • ‘Almost Everyone is Dead’ (Sad / wise looking brown-skinned man.)
  • Woah! More than 60 Inches of Snow! (Old photo of plowed highway cut through snow.)
  • Deadly H1N1 Flu Virus Sweeping U.S. (Needle going into arm.)
  • Will THIS Wipe Us Out? (Picture of erupting volcano.)
  • Saturn’s Rings are HOW Old? (Ominous looking photo of Saturn.)

These aren’t even the typical clickbait Elsewhere on the web  / “You wouldn’t believe…” ads, but actual links to pages within the weather.com site. Fear mongering for selling things (products, politics, or revisits to websites) are nothing new, but as someone who rarely watches broadcast news or visits sites such as The Weather Channel I can’t help but be taken aback at the naked hype.

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