Posted 16 May 2011,
When a producer calls...
Last week I received three media calls related to the Forbes.com article, from last year, that ranked schools. All three were from broadcast outlets: two from domestic broadcasters and one from a German broadcast company. It would be difficult to say whether I was more surprised by calls generated by an article that is over one year old or by the fact that none of the broadcasters were from New York City. Perhaps most surprising of all was that all three calls arrived in the same week, which made me wonder why, with everything that is going on in the world, broadcasters were still trolling through last year’s news.
The arc of the life of any particular media story depends on a number of factors. Perhaps most important would be how it first breaks. A story that breaks in a respected print outlet is pretty much guaranteed to be picked up by what I still refer to as the “wire services” and the appearance of such a story on AP, AFP, Reuters, or similar means that a great number of the print media will run with the story simply because they have paid for it already. If they have the column inches, or Web space, available then the story will run. Other stories take on a life of their own, regardless of how they first broke. Several years ago a story broke about a sound that could be heard only by young people. This was developed by an Englishman who wanted to keep the local youth from hanging out in front of stores. The American and then international media followed up and for several weeks I answered press calls about hearing loss...or that’s how I started to think of the story. It took about one month, but eventually the story appeared finally to die out…at least the press interest did…after I had spoken to reporters from around the globe. Several months later I received a call from a producer for an afternoon talk show who wanted to know if Trinity could provide an “expert” on this topic. At the time I remember thinking, “That story was so six months ago. Don’t you want to devote a segment to something topical?” It turned out that the host of this talk show had just recently read about this miracle sound that could only be heard by the young and “He just knows that this is the next big thing.” I explained that perhaps it had been the next big thing, but that time seemed to have passed and I recommended that the producer read several of the more prominent articles that had been written so many months earlier.
I didn’t bother asking the producers who called last week why they were just now looking into a story from April 2010. Somehow the first two calls seemed rather random and it was only by the third call, from the German television station, that I started to wonder if there were a pattern. If I get additional calls this week I’ll try to figure out why this topic has been rediscovered. Perhaps it is going to be the next big thing.