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Bureau—Media Workshops in Melbourne and Perth
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Bureau—Media Workshops in Melbourne and Perth

No. 250 July 1980, Item 3151

Two further workshops in the series of informal meetings between the Bureau and the media were held in Melbourne (28 May) and Perth (18–19 June).

Both workshops were well attended, although the Melbourne meeting was affected by the journalists' strike which prevented the attendance of any metropolitan press representatives.

As in previous, discussions in the Melbourne and Perth meetings included talks by Regional and Read Office personnel on matters concerning the provision of weather information, and by media representatives on the presentation of this information in the press and on radio and television.

Melbourne workshop

Bureau speakers included the A/DIR Bob Crowder, A/ADS Bob Southern, RD Tony Powell, and Ian Russell, Senior Met. in the Vic RO. Tony Powell's paper on terminology produced some interesting comments in the discussion period that followed. These included:

  1. the media receive complaints when 'fine' is used in the forecast and the sky is overcast; to some people fine means sunshine;
  2. the ABC representative said fine means no rain, and always has; the Bureau, as the authority, should be telling the public the meaning of terms and not asking them what is their understanding; the public including schoolchildren should be educated as to terminology.

Comments following Bob Southern's paper on the broadcasting guidelines included:

  • the Bureau is making too big an issue of whether the public thinks of forecasts originating from any source other than the Bureau;
  • on the other hand the public often believes the TV presenter compiles the forecast;
  • in a free society anyone can carry on a business if qualified to do so; Australia probably will follow the American trend towards private meteorologists, e.g. in Queensland there are three private practitioners;
  • identification of the forecast as coming from the Bureau is justified; sources other than the Bureau could be dangerous as people's lives are affected.

Rob Gell, the TV presenter on ATV10 said the public wanted his 'interpretation' of the forecasts because stereotyped phrases just don't attract interest; forecasts need to be down to be absorbed by the public. He saw terminology as a crisis area, and suggested the introduction of the word 'fair' and the use of 'dry' instead of 'fine'.

The ABC Rural Supervisor John Anderson said he had received only about 30 critical letters in the past five years, indicating that the weather service is considered satisfactory by the man on the land; most criticism was about presentation rather than content Farmers as a group preferred to do their own forecasting, using the wether map and the other information provided.

Mr Anderson expressed concern over the apparent conflict within the Bureau over terminology. He suggested the Bureau should 'bite the bullet' and issue a glossary for public usage.

People in Bright Sparcs - Crowder, Robert Bernard; Powell, Frank Anthony (Tony); Russell, Ian

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