Time to end Straight Talk?
As 2018 draws to a close, it’s only natural to anticipate a new year and all the changes that we hope a new beginning will bring about. That’s true about our personal lives as well as our professional ones. And I have to tell you that right now, I am contemplating a big change here at The Glengarry
News. I have doubts it will be controversial but, I’m afraid to say, it may also be necessary. I am considering discontinuing Straight Talk. I know it’s been a Glengarry News institution for at least as long as I have been at the newspaper but I have to tell you that it is getting harder and harder to get people to participate in it. Week after week, we have to stalk six people and persuade them to be photographed and then get them to answer an innocuous question. We’ve long abandoned deep or political inquiries; we’ve discovered that our success rate is higher when we shy away from the controversial or the complex.
And still, people don’t want to participate. I used to have an 85 per cent success rate when I approached people to be in Straight Talk. Now I estimate that it hovers around 40 per cent. I not the only one who has noticed this trend. My fellow reporters find that it’s getting harder for them too; they often have to mine their own friends and acquaintances to get participants for Straight Talk.
Perhaps you’ve noticed that, over recent years, Straight Talk has featured a higher-thanaverage number of kids. There’s a good reason for this. Children are excited to see their picture in the newspaper. Adults are not. Straight Talk would be a joy for our reporters if, week after week, we were permitted to fill it exclusively with children and adolescents.
While we’re not sure if our readers would tire of this trend, we are certain that our reporters are tired of getting rejected by adults. This sug- gests to us that Straight Talk might have reached its Best By date.
Well perhaps a compromise is in order. Perhaps, instead of abandoning Straight Talk altogether, we could run it once a month. We could re-brand it as This Month’s Hot Topic.
Or, perhaps, we really could make it a youthfocused feature, maybe even featuring a different school every week.
One thing is for sure, though. The way it is right now, Straight Talk is eating up a lot of our resources. I can tell you that on the weeks when I get all six of our Straight Talks, it probably eats up more than 10 per cent of my work week.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter. Are you a Straight Talk junkie? Is it the first thing you turn to in The News? Would you be disappointed if it ran less frequently or it had a different focus?
Write to me at [email protected]garrynews.ca. I’d love to hear your thoughts.