Mainstream media’s new dependence on content from citizens opens new problems. Determining authenticity of weather photos is now part of a new job description for meteorologists, according to the blog Dan’s Wild Wild Science Journal.
Chief Meteorologist for WHNT NEWS 19 in Huntsville, Alabama, Dan Satterfield, writes: “I get hundreds of emails a week/sometimes each day. I try to answer as many as I can, but I and hundreds of my fellow Meteorologists (especially those like me who work on air) are getting the same pictures sent to us over and over. If you see any of these pictures or hoaxes in your email, do us all a favor and hit REPLY ALL. Then type the words HOAX. That’s what I do.”
He observes a definite patterns in the email submissions he receives. The hoaxes, he explains, coordinate with the season and location of the weather. Dan writes: “If a hurricane develops in the Atlantic, I will start getting the picture taken from ship. If a tornado wreaks havoc on some poor town, I will get the picture of the tornado. Especially if the twister hit Oklahoma or Texas, because as everyone know, that’s where the oil is!”
Claire Aiello, Web Content Manager for the Huntsville station, posted a video and an image gallery of 12 of these weather fakes for readers to review. The article discusses some of these images and interviews one of the photographers whose work was ripped-off and altered before being circulated with fake captions.