Covering Coronavirus: Tips, best practices and programs

Meteorologist starts online weather classes for students stuck at home

KVUE’s chief meteorologist Albert Ramon

Weather has taken a back seat to breaking news coverage related to coronavirus — and rightfully so, says Albert Ramon, chief meteorologist for KVUE in Austin, Texas. Tapping into his desire to educate, Ramon is starting a series of online weather classes geared toward helping families — and anyone — now stuck at home.

How did you come up with the idea to engage the community in this way? What inspired you? 

I wanted to be able to contribute some way in the days and weeks ahead and, with school being out indefinitely, I figured there was a need for students to continue to get some education, even if it was for just 30 minutes a day. 

How does this tap into and challenge your expertise in meteorology? 

What’s great about being a local meteorologist is we have the opportunity to do school visits dozens of times a year. We have a great relationship with our local schools and understand what kind of content they are looking for for their students. So transitioning that way of thinking to a digital platform just made sense.

How did you/are you preparing for the live questions you could get from anyone in the audience?

Having Q&A during the presentation is so important, it separates you from just a normal uploaded YouTube video, plus adds interaction with the students. Facebook Live platform allows the student to chime right in on their own or with the help of a parent.

How might another journalist — not necessarily a meteorologist — tap into their expertise and present it in new ways for audiences? 

I’m a firm believer that learning shouldn’t stop, no matter what’s happening in our world. I have a neighbor who is offering Spanish lessons via Facetime and a friend who is doing cooking classes on Facebook. It’s these little things that will go a long way to get us through this together. If you have an expertise or hobby that you want to teach others, go for it! It will make a difference, plus give you something to do while stuck at home over the next few weeks.

What advice do you have for your peers as we work through what will be coronavirus coverage for the foreseeable future? 

Creating “Albert’s Weather Classroom” was a way I can give back to my viewers, but also a way for me to focus on something else for a few hours a day other than what’s happening in our community, country and world. The luxury of being a meteorologist during this crisis is I can disconnect. That’s definitely not as easy to do for journalists, but I would encourage you to carve out some time after your shift to unplug and focus on you. We’re going to need your reporting for the long haul, so stay healthy!