Severe weather challenges
We’re having some rather nasty thunderstorms here in Central Florida. Don’t get me wrong — severe weather is a major issue and the local news channels here do a great job getting the word out about dangerous storms.
However, I still hate it when stations use poorly designed crawls or warning maps that cover up programming. One of the local stations here messed up the audio on the evening news when master control inserted a top-of-the-screen crawl. Personally, I like placing all crawls at the top of the screen (this includes breaking news and school closings). For me, it is easier to ignore the content if it’s something I’m not concerned with and seems to be the least distracting overall.
Another local station has an annoying habit of just “floating” a map over the screen — no graphical background or L-bar graphic. This approach doesn’t work because it’s too hard to read the map with video in the background and also covers up any lower thirds on the actual show you’re trying to watch.
Of course, stations are always walking a fine line of getting important, and potentially live-saving, information out while not breaking into programs and they are flooded with complaints no matter what they do. That isn’t really fair, but careful design and some new technology can really help this challenge.