Still True Today!

I've added to the top of blog a new feature called Still True Today, an idea for the media I proposed in my first book, The Two Percent Solution, as a way the top media outlets could regularize attention to the things that remain important every day even though there isn't news on them. Here's how I described it in the book, when I presented then-Washington Post editor Len Downie with a mock up of the idea:

Still, I’d always thought, wasn’t there some way that the most important daily bulletin boards in our public life – page one of the Post and the Times -- could institutionalize regular attention for things that are important even though there’s not “news” on them? Some device that would be consistent with these editors’ sense that they should not be directing an agenda, but which would nonetheless perform a public service by mitigating the gap left when officials prefer not to address important issues.

“Can I throw out a crazy idea?” I said, laying on the table a mockup of the front page of the Post I had prepared. “Why not have a feature called ‘Still True Today’?” I explained that this would be a small but visible line or two across the bottom of the front page; a kind of tickertape, nothing that would interfere with 98 percent of the usual front page, where the big news of the day would always appear. But, in addition, in this small daily feature, you’d highlight facts that were, well, still true today. My own list would include things like "42 million Americans uninsured – 80% in family with full time worker,” “2 million teachers need to be recruited in the next decade, while average teacher salary is $40,000,” and so on, in the Two Percent spirit. You might go with a different subject each day, I suggested – say, health on Monday, education on Tuesday, the working poor on Wednesdays -- but repeat the same facts each time. Obviously there are countless permutations. The exercise would require our top papers to put forward what they think are the most important things citizens need to remain aware of even as the news changes each day. It might help set the agenda for the papers’ in-depth reporting projects. The art department could make sure this recurring feature was fun and lively. Who knows? If the Times or the Post started such a feature, the ripple effect might be huge.

I still like the idea so I've added it to the top of the blog. I've started it with some of my own "favorite" troubling things that are Still True Today. Feel free to nominate your own ideas in the comments here, and I'll work the best ones into the rotation. And feel free to prosyletize the Still True Today idea to your favorite media outlets.


Blogger Bill Karwin said...

I remember Chevy Chase pioneered this concept over thirty years ago when he said, "Our top story tonight: Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead."

But seriously, your concept is good. Many times during the year news coverage abandons important stories as they swarm to a new headline.

A related idea is the various "clock" reports, like Keith Olbermann reciting how many days since "Mission Accomplished" was announced in Iraq.

January 3, 2009 at 11:59 AM  
Blogger paul penton said...

You want real news to to Project Censored.

January 3, 2009 at 1:46 PM  
Blogger Paige C Yannone said...

To build on your idea...I wonder if there is a way to weave in some literary classic/philosophy/philosopher that helps define/explain/explore things that are going on today (in some particular area_....just some sort of a brief mention...I know that no one cares about this kind of stuff...but I think that this is what is missing in so much of our "formal education/training"...we are knowledgeable, but don't understand the human trials/lessons/ethics that might/should play into our decision making...sorry...rambling a bit...

January 7, 2009 at 9:36 PM  
Blogger Chris Foran said...

"Still True Today" is a great idea, whoever originated it. Thanks Matt and keep it rolling.

Minor ergonomic comment... I have a heck of a time reading the scrolling blue on black, though I have good color vision. Please lighten that blue in the scrolling marquee.

July 28, 2011 at 7:28 AM  

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