B+C Station Awards: Hearst Television Eyes Changes in the Weather

Barbara Maushard and David Hurlburt of Hearst TV
Barbara Maushard (l.) and David Hurlburt (Image credit: Hearst TV)

Hearst Television staffers thought and talked a lot about the weather this year. 

“Forecasting Our Future” was the group’s multiplatform initiative, an effort to localize the issue of climate change to one where stories illustrate local impacts, prospects and possible solutions.

In mid-November, Hearst TV director of special projects David Hurlburt said 600 stories had aired, which is more than 20 hours. “And that’s just within the newscast,” he said. KOAT Albuquerque (“New Mexico’s Drought Crisis”), WTAE Pittsburgh and WYFF Greenville (“Hurricane Outlook”) were among the 33 Hearst stations that did local-issue specials. 

Hearst also has a national investigative unit, led by chief national investigative correspondent Mark Albert, which produced eight stories on related topics including dealing with rising floodwaters and “green jobs.” Chief national consumer correspondent Jeff Rossen produced a monthly story on topics such as “wish cycling” (trying to recycle something that can’t be recycled) and reusable dryer products.  

Then there was the groupwide special, Forecasting Our Future, that aired in April, with another one airing in December, with content from every Hearst station around the country.  

“We wanted to harness the power of all the stations in all the various regions of the country, and in particular the experts that we have in our meteorologists and the weather folks,” Barbara Maushard, senior VP of news, explained about the selection of the project’s theme. “We have more than a hundred of them around the group who really understand the different impacts of the different weather patterns in the different markets. They are all involved.”

Some stations found hidden stories in checking the local impact of climate change: 

  • KCRA Sacramento: How warmer, drier weather impacts wildfires;
  • WCVB Boston: How weather patterns make the Massachusetts pothole season more costly; 
  • WLKY Louisville: Tornado activity is increasing across Ohio Valley; 
  • WAPT Jackson: Pollen season could be getting longer. 

“The stories that make you feel good about some of this are the solution stories,” Hurlburt said, “from families to organizations and companies doing large-scale things to just try to reduce their own impact, because all of this plays a role in the way we’re seeing the severity of weather.” ■

Kent has been a journalist, writer and editor at Multichannel News since 1994 and with Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He is a good point of contact for anything editorial at the publications and for Nexttv.com. Before joining Multichannel News he had been a newspaper reporter with publications including The Washington Times, The Poughkeepsie (N.Y.) Journal and North County News.