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McDavid Stoddard and Paul Lentz

497. SmartNews personalizes weather news with Disaster Info Hubs

Right now, there are some 6,000 cities across the U.S that can benefit from these hubs offering local weather news, with more on the way.

The hubs “cover any major disruptive act of Mother Nature” and will feature reporting in addition to weather information, including “fires in California, earthquakes, hurricanes, flooding. The big one now is really any kind of winter weather event. The goal is to give consumers a quick and easy hub of information they need to stay safe and psychologically feel safe,” says McDavid Stoddard, SmartNews’ product partnerships director. “The alternative would be, you’d have to piece together this information. … We provide a comprehensive one-stop shop when there’s an act of Mother Nature.” 

The information is location accurate down to the ZIP code, he adds, meaning if there are blue skies overhead, there won’t be a disaster hub open for that area.

“We have this hyper local orientation and focus in everything we do,” says Paul Lentz, AccuWeather’s senior vice president of business development. “Weather only really matters wherever you are locally. For us, SmartNews gives us more reach to get our message out to more people who work in this aggregated sense.”

AccuWeather already has a partnership with the National Weather Service, sharing weather maps and information. “What makes AccuWeather special is actually that (artificial intelligence) can’t do everything with the weather. If it were, weather companies wouldn’t be around. We are able to take inbound data sources and we have over 100 meteorologists who have been forecasting weather for decades,” Lentz says.

Combining forces for this information service helps SmartNews provide important information to its app users with the trusted weather information of a nationally known and recognized partner. 

“The challenge, for an app like SmartNews, is we’re all over the U.S.,” Stoddard says. “We have quite a large user base. We need to be able to work at scale with some degree of automation. The real challenge here is to have quality data.” 

AccuWeather’s Paul Lentz and McDavid Stoddard of SmartNews discuss how their companies partnered to provided readers more personalized, timely weather reporting and launched the Hurricane “Disaster Info Hub.” 

Allison Taylor-Levine

625. Community collaboration key to evolving local journalism

Allison Taylor Levine, CEO of Local Journalism Initiative, discusses how LJI’s Delaware Journalism Collaborative, which has brought more than 25 partners throughout the state together to report on polarization and possible solutions, strengthens local journalism in Delaware and our democracy.

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