Missing the Target: More Benjamins Less Weiners

Posted on June 16, 2011

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Sometimes after spending the better part of a day listening to a news/talk station, I have no idea what’s going on in the news.

I always figured it was my own fault. I’m not good at paying attention. If someone had compared the number of college classes I slept through to how many I actually took notes in the tally would not be pretty. 

Lot’s of notebook pages with drool on them.

But in this particular case, my wandering mind might not be at fault. Maybe some talk hosts aren’t really covering the most important news.

According to the Pew Research Center for People and the Press the news media missed the mark last week by a pretty large margin.

Their research indicates the story people were most interested in was the status of the economic recovery which led the second most interesting story, Rep. Anthony Weiner’s naughty photos, by a margin of almost 2:1.

A separate analysis of news coverage for the week indicates the media had its priorities reversed with 17% of all news coverage focusing on Weiner-gate while only 11% was about the economy.

The Pew report doesn’t break down news coverage by medium so we don’t know for sure how talk radio did covering the right topic compared to television and other news outlets. But I’m sure we aren’t the lone medium that is talking about all the right stories.

Actually, I can think of a few reasons talk radio probably missed the mark:

  • Weiner jokes are more entertaining than economics.
  • Economy-related show prep is a lot more work than Weiner puns.
  • The Herd Mentality; everyone is talking about Weiner so I should too.

I’m not suggesting talk radio would be better off having lengthy discussions of nothing but economic indicators but jumping solely on the Weiner bandwagon is also a mistake.

Here’s what I am suggesting:

  • Use Your Head: Don’t let what you see on other media outlets dictate the topics you discuss on your show.
  • When in Doubt Ask. Use Facebook, Twitter, your blog and Web site to communicate with your audience to find out what’s on their minds. And while we’re on the topic, get out of the studio and talk to normal people too.
  • Keep Your Balance: With certain exceptions of course, don’t let any single story dominate your entire show.
  • Hire a Mechanic: I’ll keep you on the straight and narrow.
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