I rush past the Empire State Building on my way to work every weekday morning, Head Down. I’ll take a closer look tomorrow.
Hellen Keller, recounting her visit to the top of the Empire State Building:
“What did I ‘see and hear’ from the Empire Tower? As I stood there ‘twixt earth and sky, I saw a romantic structure wrought by human brains and hands that is to the burning eye of the sun a rival luminary. I saw it stand erect and serene in the midst of storm and the tumult of elemental commotion. I heard the hammer of Thor ring when the shaft began to rise upward. I saw the unconquerable steel, the flash of testing flames, the sword-like rivets. I heard the steam drills in pandemonium. I saw countless skilled workers welding together that mighty symmetry. I looked upon the marvel of frail, yet indomitable hands that lifted the tower to its dominating height.
Let cynics and supersensitive souls say what they will about American materialism and machine civilization. Beneath the surface are poetry, mysticism and inspiration that the Empire Building somehow symbolizes. In that giant shaft I see a groping toward beauty and spiritual vision. I am one of those who see and yet believe.”
Courtesy Letters of Note.
I’m a list-maker. It helps me organize and prioritize tasks, develop ideas and spend a fraction of the time in a grocery store.
My to-do list for today, an admittedly easy day that didn’t necessarily require a list, consisted of:
A few days have passed since Washington Post released its exclusive interview with former Penn State University head football coach Joe Paterno, and I have to say I really liked the way the Post handled packaging and promoting the story.
The actual news of the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal broke months ago, and while the shock and disgust nationwide may have only dulled slightly since then, the steady stream of new information has slowed dramatically. So, as with any story, an outlet must choose to find a new coverage angle, break new information or simply leave it alone — churning out old news is no way to grow readership.
But the Post did find itself a new coverage angle: Paterno sat down for an exclusive interview with sports columnist Sally Jenkins, his first public conversation on the issue since the news broke and he lost his job. Promotional efforts for the story began last Friday, a full day before the interview was released, when the Post started posting photos from the interview to Facebook, and Tweeting questions to readers about what they hoped and expected to learn from the interview. Social media is a great (and widely used) way to share links to already published stories, but the Post proved it’s also an excellent tactic to spread the word about what’s upcoming and, more importantly, engage readers by asking them to participate in a dialogue on the topic.
The Post announced the story would be available the following day, and followed up with a live online chat with the writer, which lasted nearly two and a half hours Monday morning. All of the coverage leading up to, including and following the main story was well-stocked with links to previous coverage and graphics detailing the story so far.
That package concept is pretty profound; it’s part marketing and part advertising (are they different?), and something the news industry is painfully and historically terrible at undertaking. But the Post managed to drum up interest in a product that wasn’t even available yet, and wouldn’t be for days, as if they were distributing a pre-order list for an Apple release.
The story currently has more than 2,600 comments (new comments are still being posted on the online story, four days later), and it’s been picked up by various print, online and broadcast outlets, in addition to the analysis Jenkins’ interview and the video that accompanied the story have received . The Post didn’t stand to lose anything by spreading the word, loudly, that they had an exclusive — this wasn’t the kind of story they were likely to have scooped out from under them once another outlet caught wind of it. But they capitalized on being first to get the story by catapulting it into a week of discussion and promotion, and I think that’s a lesson smaller, hyperlocal news organizations could take to heart. It’s tough to produce original, interesting and relevant content daily, or several times a day, and nearly impossible the many short-staffed and under-budgeted community news groups throughout the country. But knowing when you have something good, that is of particular value to your readers (which requires editors to truly know what’s important to their communities), and developing a self-promotion strategy should be a regular part of news budget meetings and the framework of community engagement for all outlets.
It’s exhilarating to me when themes of stories I’ve heard, read or watched line up with one another. Not in the sense that every news outlet covers the same “story” at once, which grosses me out, but when you can begin to connect the dots between a fact you pick up on Twitter one day and a narrative you listen to making dinner the next.
This American Life’s Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory, chased with NY Daily News’ Foxconn Workers Talked Out of Suicide Protest at Chinese Factory (Could reverse them, but this order is somehow less depressing.)
Orange Juice Futures Prices Are Surging and Nobody Knows Why on Slate, followed with Why Is ‘I Don’t Know’ So Hard to Say? a recent Freakonomics podcast