Weather forecasts turn up the heat

Cheryl McGrath, Editorial Assistant of Margaret Gee's Australian Media Guide / July 24, 2013 11:03 AM

For some reason, weather and sexiness just go together.


Back in the 60s, when Rosemary Margan stripped down to a bikini on Nine to tell Australia just exactly how hot it was going to be next week, you could dismiss it as a (comparatively) daring attempt to snag a male audience. But the stereotype is going nowhere. With new weather presenters Rebecca Judd (on Nine) and Giaan Rooney (on Seven) lighting up our screens over the past few months, plus well-established faces like Magdalena Roze on Ten, there seems to be a definite trend here.


So what is the deal? Why does the phrase “sexy weather presenters” bring up forty million pages on Google? Why do we have weather girls in Mexico wearing schoolgirl skirts on air and Hungarian weather girls doing FHM shoots? 


More importantly, what does this say about what viewers want from their news? Image is fine – after all, television is based on image. But is it coming at the expense of something more?


At the very least, it’s got to be said that viewers don’t seem to demand the same credibility from weather presenters than they do other reporters or anchors. Regardless of Judd and Rooney’s talents, no one’s arguing that they were hired for knowing the weather - not even Rooney. And in spite of all the high-tech charts and data, weather seems to be turning into something not all that different from that feel-good human interest segment they tack on at the end of the bulletin, like a story about a cute animal doing something cute.


Maybe it’s true most people won’t need an in-depth analysis of the meteorological data from a professional.  But you have to feel for qualified experts like David Brown, who could not only tell his audience the what, but also the how and the why. Would we accept any other news story from someone who wasn’t a journalist?


It’s tacky, but in this cutthroat media environment, the hot girl still sells.


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