Time to end Straight Talk?

The Glengarry News - - The Opinion Page -

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.

STEVEN WAR­BUR­TON

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