27 September 2008

Finding Humor in Current Events

Every news organization knows the pull of a good story line but the goal must be to make audiences invest time in the story. Once introduced to the details, an audience returns for more not necessarily because there's any more news but because of the initial investment of time. If we go to the bother of learning names and factoids, we will then follow the story line to its bitter end. (That's probably what drove much of the coverage of the first O.J. Simpson trial.) The initial investment of time and attention cannot be predicted; some stories "take off" and others don't.

Current news stories (finance and politics, chiefly) dominating all channels have a strong story line called Our Future. We also find plenty of names and factoids to cement our investment in daily news updates. There are special challenges, though: try constructing a good story when you have to stop to define terms like derivatives. The greater challenge, on both sides of the news story, is to maintain calm and confidence.

My personal strategy is Humor ROI by Remote Control. That means:

Humor = I am placing a premium on humorous accounts of both finances and politics.

ROI = I seek a return (sanity) on my investment (time spent watching television).

Remote Control = I use the remote to flip across channels. Stewart, Colbert, and Letterman are my anchors. Their commentaries are augmented by the cable news shows, with care taken not to watch a news show in its entirety. Channel switching permits an entertaining sweep across the political spectrum.

This weekend will be a test in the power of our current lead story of the financial crisis. Almost always, the weekend provides respite from breaking news. Maybe not in this season.

© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as professional, legal, financial, or medical advice. Or education advice. Or marital advice. Or even a tip.

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