But one of the positives of the internet is that those of us on the front lines now know what most people want rather than what a lot of people say they want, even if we really knew it all along.
In my 30-plus years in the local newspaper business, I have heard this statement or a variation of this statement more than any other: “We need more good news in the paper.”
I agree. I personally would like to read a positive story with a headline like this:
“SMALL-TOWN NEWSPAPER EDITOR HITS LOTTERY JACKPOT.”
But that’s the thing about good news. People prefer it when it’s about them. When it’s news about someone else (other than Bigfoot), analytics show scandal and misfortune attract far more eyeballs.
For example, a story about a 16-year-old student named Kiwanis Club Citizen of the Week will inevitably get fewer page views than a story about a 16-year-old student arrested for stealing an activity bus and setting it ablaze on the 50-yard line of the football stadium.
The latter’s grandma may understandably want more good news in the paper that day, but everyone in her SilverSneakers class will click and forward and hash-tag the heck out of Junior’s unfortunate “railroading” by the cruel criminal justice system.
But Bigfoot news transcends all. If someone came up to me and said, “We need more Bigfoot news,” I would say, “Yes we do. The analytics prove it.”