Friday, October 26, 2018
Got 40 seconds? Good, then do I have part of a column for you!
Not a lot of time. I'll have to work fast. Stick with me.
Standing in the newsroom Wednesday I did something I don't often do: study one of the big monitors hanging from the ceiling, showing how our stories are doing. Checking on my Mega Millions column. Top 10; good, good—people love the lottery. Nodding in contentment, I let my eye wander rightward to "engagement time," how long the average reader spends absorbing this finely wrought argument.
Ouch. You can't read a column a 40 seconds. Most people must bail out. Looking at the other stories, I saw 40 seconds is actually a long time. One had a time of seven seconds.
You see why. People are on their phones, flicking here and there. They're like my dog, three steps forward—SQUIRREL!—another three steps—SMELLY SPOT ON THE GROUND!
It can take her a while to get anywhere.
The above can be read in 40 seconds—I just did, auctioneer-style, with a stopwatch. So you distracted folks, you've put in your time. I unclip your leash. For the rest, let's continue. Ripping through the above made me think of a Woody Allen joke: "I took a speed-reading course and read 'War and Peace' in twenty minutes. It involves Russia."
Doesn't everything nowadays?
And no, I don't take the 40 second average as an indictment of this little 719-word parcel left on your doorstep three times a week. Don't bother writing to sneeringly claim that if only I'd respect our president more, well then, readers would just sprawl before the column, sipping sweet tea, lingering indolently over what I have to say as shadows lengthen on the veranda.
Thank you for your valuable input.
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