May 14, 2012

What if newspapers had "sweeps weeks"?

Ahh, May. Besides spring heading toward summer, or, in much of Texas, already entering it, it reminds me of one of the more objectionable facets of television: May is one of the four "sweeps" months, in which Nielsen ratings get extra advertising scrutiny.

Could you imagine what newspapers would be like with that? In New York, the Post would probably borrow from its Murdoch cousins across the pond and start the custom of Page 3 girls. Bristol Palin first, then Meghan McCain, eh?

Smaller communities with multiple papers, or metros with a daily plus an alt-weekly, would probably be weirder yet, staking out local government officials and agencies on a "corruption beat." The alt-weeklies might try to out-Craig Craigslist on their classifieds.

Chemicals in local groundwater would be overhyped by people knowing bupkis about science.

And, in the smaller towns of red state America, editors and publishers would open their op-ed pages to ever more "birther" letters to the editor, etc.

Wait a minute. Except the page 3 girls, a fair amount of that happens a fair amount of the time in today's newspapers anyway. And will probably only get worse.

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