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Friday, March 15, 2019

Are you old enough to watch the evening news?

David Muir on ABC

Now THAT, my friends, is a trick question.

First off, every newscast starts with "BREAKING NEWS" and we older like that. (Hint number 1) We want to know what is happening now so we can be up to date. Will the future never happen if we don't worry about it? Sadly, so much of BREAKING NEWS recently is about the really bad weather that has earned its prominence. 

Most of us older people are already obsessed about the weather, good, bad or foggy. (Hint number 2) When we were young, apparently there was no weather... or at least, not 24/7 as it is today.

Rising or dropping gas prices across the nation (Hint number 3) is also fodder a little later in the broadcast and outrage comes quick to those who will drive 30 miles to save 5 cents a gallon. But fear not, there is enough outrage in the news to give every watcher a target or two.

The reason all of this is true is because old people care on a global/universe scale. Thus we are self-selecting. That's why we see all those icky ads at dinner time... because we are the best market for those advertisers and they aim right between the eyes and into the caring brain of the "the older." ... of which I am one, or better said... of which I am one.

So the evening news has most of the elements for 'older' interests... immediacy, core issues, pet interests, bile baiters, etc. Now it is safe for me to be judgmental because I have come clean...but maybe not Charmin clean, heaven forbid...  and old people can't read that small type anyhow so they don't know I am making fun of us.  So just think of me as 28 years-old (wink-wink ok?) as I continue on my rampage of, as you will see, advertising to the older generation... or, as we say in the business, demographics

We are 'self-selecting' by our interests and certain advertisers want us... need us!

They mostly target the less-desired demographic with products/things that would interest someone skewing "oldish." (Actually a smart strategy, and the reason Nike or Speedo don't.)

So we get:

  • Charmin toilet tissue (my favorite) because I do desire "a better clean." "A Charmin clean... Now that feels good," "Whether I sit or squat."
  • Depends, "for a better fit," of course.
  • Ducolax, "Dependable relief" asking if I am "Constipated?" or "Stuck?"
  • Cologuard, where I can "send poop through the mail."
  • Linzess, because "not everyone poops."
  • Bath Fitters, because "a walk-in shower is safer for the less agile than a bathtub."
  • Hearing Aids, because "Eh?"
  • And many of the medicines with strange, made-up trade names and a list of possible side effects from upset stomach to death, but all helpful or vital when needed... like now for some who watch.
If you watch the evening news, you are quite probably interested in these products. Actually, it does work as advertisers spend big money to reach their best audience of users or potential users. Facebook also chases the gold by recognizing who wants what and instantly flooding those 'feeds' with like product. That's no accident.

So, news watchers, the message is clear... if you want to be seen as demographically younger, and who doesn't, watch Saturday Night Live, now in it's 44th year. You'll see none of the above advertisers but you must use discretion lest you be tempted to go for a racy Speedo or new pair of very expensive Nikes ("Just Do It!"),  As a bonus though, with SNL you will get a slice of America as it is currently seen through younger comedic eyes, some funny stuff and some that will make you cringe. But hey, that's what time-shifting is all about. Record the stuff you want to watch later and fast forward with gusto until it feels just right. And, as a bonus, you can still get to bed before 10 pm and no one will know how old you are, you sly fox.

Older is a joy if blessed with the important stuff (not money, but if so burdened, try your best to live with it.) but you know what I mean. We are as old as we see from our eyes but sometimes, if we are seen as older by others, it  is a drag. Be free as life allows... watch SNL if only in disgust, but enjoy a semi-forbidden laugh (with absolutely no disclaimers) at ourselves once in a while... and maybe, worry less about what you can't control. Did you just say "NOPE!"

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Is the media , "The enemy of the people?” as the President says over and over...and is believed, perhaps by as many as 1 of 3 Americans today.

National Enquirer

Well, I guess you could truthfully say, "Yes and No." But then comes the tough part: Where, and from whom, do you get "the real news?"

"Fake news! Fake news! Fake news," he says, and there is always some of that.

Take the National Enquirer, for example. It's been around since 1926 and has always sold well when displayed at grocery and other check-out lines, purchased on impulse because of its  often outrageous' grabber headlines.'

Weekly World News
Click on the National Enquirer link under its photo and you will see a large number of their covers showing what I mean. (FYI; David Pecker, who has been in the news lately, is the Chairman and CEO of American Media which publishes the National Enquirer...

... and also, one of my all-time favorite fun titles, "The Weekly World News: the world's only reliable news", which is no longer in print... but there was nothing like it, for sure! Check the link for a fun time.

The Onion
Then there is The Onion, a satirical newspaper founded in Madison, Wisconsin in 1988 which built his reputation for humor by its handling of real and fake stories, always with an amusing or amazingly unbelievable  twist. You can see more of their covers by clicking on the Onion link below the picture... and PS: This story, Sexiest Man, was believed as true "over there" and gathered a lot of steam.

Now THAT'S fake news. There is a lot of fake news on all platforms of social media, because,what is seen on the internet is ALWAYS TRUE, right? Problem is, it's hard to tell sometimes what is fake and what is real. And because it is repeated thousands of times does not make anything fake, real Really!

Now we have the more conventional news media... newspapers (what's left of them), television and radio. Sadly, newspapers, the best source of in-depth news and coverage, is fading fast, a victim of its time in the same market with social media, where most of the young and younger get their news, if any at all. Who has time to read something as antiquated and clumsy as a "newspaper.?" Advertisers who provide most of the newspaper revenue, have left that media for greater reach of their base on line. Sad for good reporting, but true. That time has mostly passed, never to return to former glory.

Do, however, make a distinction based on where you get your news. For the most accepted traditional newspaper (print)  and TV news media, there is a culture of reporting news as news. And yes, in the editorial pages and slant, there is often a viewpoint... but it is not covert and largely governed by its competition to make news fact based.

So what is true and what is fake? If social media is your bible, hope you get it right instead of just because you agree with it. In the newspaper business, truth happens much, much more than on line where everyone has and expresses opinion, often based on an oxymoron: "alternate facts," such as giant shrimp, deafening silence, clearly confused, amazingly awful, alone together, definite maybe, etc. There are never alternate facts, just fact facts, not always available when expressing an on line opinion.

FYI : One in five newspapers published 10 years ago is gone. There are 50,000 less news reporters to fact-fill those fewer pages of often reduced frequency newspapers. Real news does suffer but it can never, ever die... or so will we.