Here we go again. . .  another snow story

Seven practical tips for covering snow stories

Also worth checking out: Put a new twist on your weather reporting

1. Don't groan about weather stories: yes, you may do several in one season,
but it's no secret: Your readers like to talk about the weather. What's the
forecast for your weather stories? People will read them.

2. Common sense counts: It's OK to take a ruler and measure snowfall before
you telephone a weather office thatıs located 100km away and ask a
meteorologist, "So, how much snow did we get?"

3. Don't over-meteorologicize your story: Buzz words like Alberta Clipper,
low pressure system, cold front, etc., make our stories sing with authority.
But don't baffle your readers. TV weatherman generally do a good job of
simplifying weather for viewers. Newspaper journalists need to do the same.
Remember, to most people, Alberta Clipper sounds like a hockey team.

4. Don't state the obvious: When your readers pick up your paper and the
lead to your story reads. . .  The area is blanketed with snow today after a
major snowstorm yesterday. . . your readers are likely thinking: "Yeah, no
kidding." Your readers have eyes. They can see the snow. So tell them
something they donıt know to catch their attention early.

5. What's ahead: After you write about today's weather, tell your readers
about what's ahead. Is there more snow on the way? Donıt leave your readers
wondering about the forecast. We don't need even more readers turning to TV

6. Go outside: You need senses in your story. If it's bitter cold, go
outside and experience the weather. Don't just tell your readers how cold it
is. Write about how the wind chills the legs after just seconds of walking.
Write about how it feels when snow whips the exposed face. Write about the
shock of cold air reaching the lungs. Write about cars groaning to start.
Suddenly, you can relate to anyone ­ your readers ­ who had to venture
outside in such conditions. And for your readers who stayed indoors, your
story can put them in the storm. . . from the comfort of their La-Z-Boy.

7. People, people, people: During any storm, there is conflict. People in
conflict with Mother Nature. It can be as simple as a lady trying to push her
loaded shopping cart through the snow at a grocery store parking lot. Or
drivers having car trouble. Or organizations cancelling events. Capture the
experiences of people.

-- Gregg McLachlan