Since I use my DVR extensively to watch the morning and the evening news, I have the privilege of watching only what I choose to watch. And I am constantly amazed by the incredible amount of coverage that is given to totally insignificant “news” stories like the Casey Anthony trial in Florida. Sure, it was a tragedy that a child’s life was lost, but is it worth the hundreds of millions of “viewer hours” that are spent watching it? No amount of watching that story will bring her back.
This week on Monday, after publishing my daily blog, I sat down with a bowl of fruit to watch the Today Show on my DVR. On a slow news day, this was the line-up of the three “lead” stories for the entire first sixteen minutes of the program — uninterrupted by commercial break:
- The Indy car crash in Las Vegas that killed one man
- The woman in Kansas City who can’t find her baby
- The sick woman in Antarctica that finally got airlifted out
Tragic stories certainly. But we’re talking sixteen minutes on the national news that is seen by millions of people every day. That is almost 80% of all of the non-commercial time during the first half-hour of the program — the portion during which ALL of the really big news is covered. Then on the following day, the top two stories remained the same, while the third lead story featured a Michigan man who let us 9-year old daughter drive him to the convenience store because he was drunk.
And it’s not just NBC, it’s all the major networks and all the local TV stations. Personal interest “entertainment” stories dominate our news programming in this country. What can we do about that? How can we get life-saving information in the news? How can we get more “news” in the news that will help to make the planet a better place to live?
Adapt our message to the delivery system. If we want the 24/7 media industry to cover our cause, we must make our own personal interest stories newsworthy, or shall I say “entertainment” worthy. We must tell entertaining stories that deliver a powerful health-promoting message.
Example. Remember when Rip Essselstyn’s book (Engine 2 Diet) was launched about two years ago? As I remember it, on his book launch day, he appeared live on the Today Show in NYC to promote the book. And it was all driven by a “personal interest story” that began at the Engine 2 firehouse of Austin, TX. His segment wasn’t in the first 16 minutes, but he was on the national news.(See video below)
A great story as I remember. One of their firehouse teammates was tested with an extremely scary level of cholesterol (344) which prompted a group effort on the part of his buddies to save his life. Since Rip knew how to lower cholesterol with plant foods (something he learned from his dad), he led the crusade which included a contest among ALL team members to help rescue their friend. Long story short, after the friend began eating mostly whole plants all the time, his cholesterol plummeted from 344 to 146, a drop of 57%. Hooray for Engine 2.
I agree that the Engine 2 story is worthy of the national news coverage that it received. And Bill Clinton’s heart disease reversal also earned that kind of coverage. But with most us not enjoying celebrity status, we must come up with our own public interest stories aimed at attracting the attention of the news media. And they have to be good in order to compete in entertainment value with the flying crashes of race cars or the lost child in Kansas City.
To that end, we are working on a few projects here in CT that we hope you will see someday on the evening news or maybe even “60 Minutes.” I wrote about some of our ideas recently in this blog: Brown vs. Yale — in the first ever “4-Leaf Challenge” This one hasn’t happened yet, but we may be getting close in another. Stay tuned. Here’s that video of Rip on the Today Show:
The Bottom Line. My primary point here is that we must not just complain about our lack of real news coverage, let’s learn to leverage the almighty power of the world’s media to reach millions of people quickly. Like Rip Esselstyn, let’s make our stories entertaining enough to attract their attention.
If you like what you see here, you may wish to join our periodic mailing list. Also, for help in your own quest to take charge of your health, you might find some useful information at our 4-Leaf page. From the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day.
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—J. Morris Hicks…blogging daily at HealthyEatingHealthyWorld.com
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Head on out to the Boston Vegetarian Festival on 10/29….
Bring copies of your book. Be well.