The New York Times’ famous motto, “All the News That’s Fit to Print” used to be a standard that many folks took to mean that what they are reading is the important stuff.
But these days, with shrinking news holes and newsroom staffs bludgeoned into oblivion by spreadsheet wielding bean counters, the more appropriate phrase for newspapers is “all the news that fits, we print.”
It’s a lesson that folks in the public relations world have learned and need to be teaching their clients — whether they want to learn it or not.
Let’s take a look at our news hole in Michigan. At work this week, I’m going to have to give some thought to whether I should update targeted dates for company announcements.
How much play we’ll get for our announcements has a lot to do with what else is happening in the state, the nation and the world. After all, there’s only so much room in a newspaper for news and you don’t want to risk getting bumped by something “more important right now.”
In Michigan, the news hole is under attack by a hurricane of activity. Oh sure, Hurricane Gustav is petering out over land but it’s still going to make news because of the analysis stories about “what could have happened if…”.
And then there’s Hurricane Hanna, poised to follow in Gustav’s wake, literally, and the stories about “it didn’t happen with Gustav, but could it happen with Hana?”
Hurricane McCain is going to steal some thunder because it’s his week in the spotlight as the Republican National Convention plows on.
Hurricane Obama can’t be far from the pages of the news because, after all, someone must be wondering just exactly how wrong he thinks the Republicans are.
Hurricane Kwame Kilpatrick is sure to stir things up in the newsrooms this week, too, as a judge rules whether a governor can judge and a governor judges whether she can rule over who governs the city of Detroit.
And despite all of this, I’ve only scratched the surface. Every day there is something going on and when dealing with the media, you have to be prepared to get your announcement out at just the right time. Then, just maybe, you’ll break through the cacophony of noise slamming into the newsrooms and, like Horton’s Whos, your tiny voice might be heard.