By Wayne Karrfalt
Special to TelevisionWeek
Given the complexity of the topic and the expectation that viewers will want to dig deeper into the facts surrounding global warming, The ‘s Climate Watch initiative includes an ambitious broadband component separate from its popular Weather.com site.
One Degree, found at Climate.weather.com, is being structured as an online companion site to the network’s new show “Climate Code With Dr. Heidi Cullen,” as well as a video-centric forum on the issues of global warming and climate change. It will feature breaking news, blogs from Ms. Cullen and others and in-depth video stories that delve deeper into stories than the network is able to do on-air.
One Degree, a reference to the recent rise in the ocean’s average temperature, chose as its first big topic the Nebraska drought, a phenomenon that has stretched into its seventh year and that scientists are comparing to the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. TWC has produced multiple segments on the problem, interviewing drought experts, farmers, ranchers and families that have been affected by the lack of rain.
In addition to providing extensive commentary, debate and discussion on the issues-a process in which visitors can participate online-the site will use original video footage to tell many of the personal stories behind the larger issues, said Matthew de Ganon, the network’s head of broadband and consumer applications.
“When I was first exposed to the story I had a hard time seeing the ripple effect the drought would have,” Mr. de Ganon said. “But producers and crew members walk us through and connect the dots. It impacts corn and grass growth, which means cattle don’t have as much to feed on, which in turn impacts milk production. Farms that have been in the same family for five generations are being forced to sell and move away.”
Mr. de Ganon is working to integrate One Degree’s video content with TWC’s other interactive applications, such as its Desktop Weather product and Mobile. He is also reaching out to video sites YouTube and MySpace to share content and build relationships.
“There’s a real community of environmentally concerned citizens in the blogosphere and on the Web,” he said. “We are in discussions with dozens of sites about reciprocal links, content sharing and partnerships. Bloggers all have followings, and I suspect word of mouth and grass-roots seedlings will have as much of an impact as traditional media in promoting the site,”
TWC is also adding an interactive component to “Abrams & Bettes: Beyond the Forecast.” In a segment called “Weather Warriors,” the hosts encourage wannabe meteorologists to submit their own weather-related video clips to be streamed online and shown on-air.