Talk to Listeners Like They Talk to Each Other

Posted on May 3, 2012


“Today is the tomorrow we worried about yesterday.”

Edith Bunker – All in the Family

That line, a personal all-time favorite, is what came to mind when I read a Nieman Journalim Lab article about the Boston Globe changing its policy on the use of words like “yesterday” or “tomorrow” by replacing them with the appropriate day of the week.

Much like Archie often did, if Edith let that gem out now, the Globe would correct her, changing it to something like “Today is the Thursday, we worried about Wednesday,” which is not nearly as profound.

Here’s a simpler example of the new policy: if a story being posted on a Thursday makes reference to the Red Sox playing against the Tigers on Friday the article would now say “The Red Sox will play the Tigers Friday at 1:05″ instead of saying, “The Red Sox will play the Tigers tomorrow at 1:05.”

The reason for the new policy is the way the reporting cycle has changed for newspapers. Stories used to be written one day for inclusion in the next day’s paper. Now they are posted online immediately and included in the next day’s edition which creates a giant opportunity for confusion.

What interesting to me is that this change highlights one of radio’s strengths; the ability to communicate directly with listeners in an informal way. Saying something is happening “tomorrow,” or happened “yesterday” is how people communicate with each other and that’s how radio can stand out; as other mediums are forced to be less natural, we can still talk to listeners the same way they talk to each other.

So make sure you take advantage of that opportunity. Talk to your listeners like they were sitting across a table from you not as if you are in some high-tech studio pronouncing your brilliance to the masses.

And, as always, If you need some help understanding the difference you can always hire a good mechanic.