Monday, July 30, 2007

Did You Know? Or Insipid News "Events"

Does anybody know what happened to Lindsay Lohan last week?

How about the ongoing saga of the hotel heiress? (Bet you know her name.)

Did you see the story about the news helicopters that crashed and killed their crews while broadcasting a pickup truck towing a trailer through city streets?

I think it's extremely likely that you know about at least one of the above stories because they've received extensive coverage. The real question is why. There is nothing inherently newsworthy in those stories other than satisfying people's morbid curiosity. I guess you could argue that if people are willing to watch it then the networks have a commercial obligation to give people what they want.

But I'd argue that this is just laziness. Inventive companies are often successful because they create a product that people never knew they wanted until they saw it. Take the iPod, for example. People weren't out clamoring for it. But once they saw it, they had to have it.

I think that the news networks have fallen into the trap of spooning out the same old shlock and aren't trying to figure out how to create interest around genuinely noteworthy events.

My own self-serving example?

How many of you know who Alan Webb is?

Chances are you have no idea or why he is in the news. He just broke a 25 year old American record for the mile. The old record was an incredible 3:47.69 set in 1982 by Steve Scott; Alan ran a 3:46.91 a couple of weekends ago at a small track meet in Belgium. Even today it is a major hurdle for runner to run a mile in less than 4 minutes. Alan did it as a senior in high school. It is just inconceivable what it takes to run it in 3:46, but the second 400m was actually slower than Steve Scott's pace so it is pretty easy to imagine Alan running under 3:46 with his current conditioning. His goal, however, is to break the world record. Hold your breath for this one. The world record was set in 1999 by Hicham El Guerrouj with a 3:43.13. If none of this boggles your mind, I invite you to head down to your local school track to run a mile.

Thanks to modern technology you can see Alan break the record. He's so fast it won't take long so head over to and watch him.

Folks, that is a newsworthy event.


MattMan said...

Wow, that was simply phenomenal. The words "I wish I could do that" seem so shallow. :)

Bull said...

How you doing Matt! Good to hear from you. I've missed having you drop in. Hope that things are settling down for you. Drop me a line sometime and let me know what's going on.

I ran a 2 mile time trial yesterday in a blinding 15:27. It give me chills to see the top track and field athletes perform now that I have an inkling of how hard it is.

Thanks to the wonders of Tivo I've been watching a lot of track and field including the recent world championships.