BBC Weather Map Overhaul Draws Complaints

The BBC recently overhauled the graphics for its weather maps, and that hasn’t gone over very well. Noel Jenkins sent in a link to his take on the affair. Essentially, people are complaining that the BBC has “dumbed down” the graphics, improving clarity at the cost of detail.

Outdoor enthusiasts are united in calling for the return of a synoptic chart showing the Atlantic situation. The BBC seems to have entirely miscalculated the number of weather-literate individuals, but other users make valid remarks too. One poster on the BBC message forum points out the pyschological value of a bright yellow sun symbol. A dyslexic poster invokes the Disability Discrimination Act in highlighting the fact that the 3D tour through the regions moves too fast. The Scottish National Party and others claim that the new oblique view distorts Scotland in favour of the South of the UK. A sizeable number of complaints concern the rendering of England’s “brown and pleasant land”. Geography teachers charged with explaining concepts of air pressure and weather systems feel disenfranchised, and predictably the cry of “dumbing down” permeates the whole message board.

As a general rule, the public is smarter than the media gives it credit for, especially nowadays, when buzzwords like “relevance” and “clarity” bespeak a rush for the lowest common denominator. Can anyone speak to this change?