My benevolent employer has started doing something that I think is sort-of interesting. We are now listing the most popular items on our sites. It's a real-time top ten list of what's garnering the most interest among readers.
I'm not entirely sure what our official reasoning is for this (perhaps Adam, who occasionally reads this blog and understands our benevolent employer far better than I, could explain), but for me it is the perfect answer to all the grumpy old dudes who used to call and complain in the years that I was a producer/assignment editor/news writer/web editor -- in other words, when I was more directly linked to the day-to-day operation of things and had to take phone calls from the public.
I heard regularly from people who would drag out the "you only care about blood and gore" line, and I would foolishly try to explain to them that no, it's not me who cares about the dark or salacious stories, it's you. More specifically, it's everyone around you. I and we at the station are not the ones who don't give a damn about the Lakeside, Calif. Little League Championships, it's the something-million other people in the San Diego news market -- who don't live in Lakeside, don't know anyone in Lakeside, and think that everyone who does live in Lakeside is a white trash hick -- who don't give a damn.
If you want to know the "why" of the foibles of American journalism, your answer is right there on the "most popular" page. American journalism is consumer-driven (a "free and independent press" as they like to say), so when four of the top ten most popular stories (at 11 a.m. CST) involve death, and the others involve celebrity drug overdose, freak accidents and kidnappings, it's a good bet that the end result will be more of the same.
Unfortunately, only the "why" of what's wrong is there, and it is only a snapshot of the problem. The answer of how to fix it is far more complex. I suggest that one positive step would be to ensure that my column start showing up on those most popular pages. Forward it to all your friends and encourage them to click "refresh" on the story no less than 10 times. Be a part of the revolution!
I like the phrasing in this sentence: "Discovery drifted away from the large orange container."
I like the use of the word "drifted" -- drifted at 17,000 mph, while the hull of the ship was buffeted by blue atmospheric flame.
MNSpeak encouraged readers to just write any old thing they felt in the comments section today. It's a bit fun and random.