At our recent Ogilvy Exchange – How Social Change Happens in the 21st Century – my friend and CNN producer Val Willingham took up the opposition to the “blame it on the media” camp. As a former CNN producer myself, I was sensitive to how the discussion was going and how a favorite Washington scapegoat – the media – was rearing its ugly head. Val reminded the panelists and guests that the media-consuming public prefers the spoon full of sugar without the medicine when they go shopping for news. News producers like her are in a constant battle to give the public what they want while providing important and valuable information that they need. She concluded with the prediction that her upcoming story on the foot health hazards of flip flops would be a big hit. It’s now out and she is absolutely right: nearly 150 comments and nearly 900 recommendations on Facebook.
PhDs, policy wonks and politicians all might fuss and fume about CNN expending resources on the banal and trivial but I think Val’s story on flip flops was engaging, interesting, and darn right informative. On this one, she hit the right balance.