Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Fort Myers | Readers sought for 'passion' interviews

The News-Press of Fort Myers, Fla., is the latest newspaper to roll out Gannett's newest newsroom initiative: passion topics. Following is from a story in yesterday's edition under the headline, "Discuss your lifestyle, passions with The News-Press Media Group."

Here's an excerpt of the text:

The News-Press Media Group is seeking to learn more about the personality of Southwest Florida and the ways in which its citizens and visitors engage in the community. A team of researchers will be conducting in-home or in-office interviews from today through Thursday.

We are looking for people at least 21 years old who live or work in the Southwest Florida area and would like to share their opinions and points of view. Interviews will last about 60 minutes and we will compensate selected participants $50 for their time.


  1. $50. Wow. That's more than they're paying the people who will report on the Passion Topics the focus groups come up with. One problem with these focus groups is that people lie. They'll say they want more city hall and education coverage, but then in the privacy of their home they go straight to Lilo and Kim Kardashian stories.

  2. "Passion topics?" Is this a reincarnation of the ever-popular "Real Life, Real News?"

  3. I was puzzled by the criteria for the three types of people they wanted to interview:

    1. You’re self-employed
    2. You work in one of the service sectors... landscaping, in a hotel, or a tour guide
    3. Your career is just starting

    These are the readers whose "passions" will help shape coverage?

    God. Help. Us.

  4. This smells like an "11G" production to me. They always recruit with those profile statements.

  5. "Selected" people will be compensated $50???

    How does one get to be "selected" for compensation among those interviewed?

    If I read that and were being interviewed, I would be darn sure to say exactly what I think these people want to hear to please them, so that I might be one of the "selected" people to get $50.

    After all, money is money, and certainly trumps telling the truth. That is the mantra of Gannett anyway, isn't it?

  6. @9:47 a.m. - Absolutely. Check out the HuffingtonPost and see which stories get the most comments, Tweets and Facebook recommendations. Most of them involve celebrities.

  7. Can you imagine future headlines:

    "Passion Interviewee stalked!
    Says the $50 wasn't worth it!"

    Bwa ha ha ha ha haaaaaa

  8. What if one of these folks says, "I'm passionate about a high employment rate and I only do business with companies that are doing their best to retain employees in this difficult economic climate. I refuse to patronize anyone else ... because I'm passionate about this."

  9. This is so News 2000.

  10. I think you guys are missing the point.

    #1: To 11:11: every participant (i.e.: those selected) receives $50. I think you just misread it, though in your defense, I can see how it's possible, given the wording.

    #2: This isn't a "tell us what you want in your paper" discussion. These are interviews to get to know the key demographics of The News-Press' coverage area. None of the interviewees are going to be asked what they want to see in the paper, or what they like and dislike about the product. The purpose is to help guide the areas of coverage in the paper, or what's important to our readers. It's always changing, and given the limited resources we have to work with these days, it's smart to figure out where those resources should be placed.

  11. 12:34 -- I would argue that the things people want in a paper are not "always changing." In fact, I bet you could commission a study that indicates they largely remain the same (with changes due to the cultural climate, of course). As a new technology emerges, people may want to read about it. But the core things that people want out of a newspaper have been pretty consistent for years.

    What hasn't been consistent is Gannett. Because managers keep their jobs by writing reports and explaining the changes they are making to keep the industry alive (changes that have consistently failed, by the way) the newspapers change every six months. This leads to even more subscriber attrition.

    The belief that what people want out of a newspaper changes like the wind is one of the basic problems with Gannett. That is a faulty assumption but one that management just "assumes" is correct.

    If a paper went back to the basics and reported on hard news of widespread interest, sports, and features of widespread interest, it would do better. Throw in some personality through columnists, critics, etc., and it would do much better.

    Would it save the industry? Probably not. Somebody has to solve the Internet problem for that to happen. But newspapers -- both in print and online -- would be more popular than they are now.

    The reason Gannett doesn't accept this is that doing the basics right requires talent, and passionate, talented people want to be paid for their efforts. We have chased many of those people away and are actively firing those that remain.

    As long as that trend continues, Gannett will never succeed, with passion topics or anything else. After all, if I'm passionate about a subject, I don't want to read a piece on it that seems like it was written by a fifth grader. There are many sources of information for the things I'm passionate about. And the more passionate I am, the less likely I am to read about it in a paper (unless it's a great one like the New York Times). That's because I generally know as much or more than the reporters covering the topic.

  12. Tell us about the community, because even though this newspaper has been here for 100 years, we're clueless.
    Seriously, $50 an hour? That's pretty good scratch.
    But it will allow managers to read the final reports and show higher-ups that they are responding to people in the area. My bet though - this is aimed more at better positioning the advertising side than news.

  13. @1:36- EXACTLY! The people calling the shots know nothing about the communities they are supposed to be covering. Why should they have to resort to this nonsense. I'll bet all those layoff victims know what the hell is going on their communities. Why not give them the $50 and then resign you clueless idiots?

  14. Gannett editors who are passionate about nothing other than their paychecks, their next President's Ring and their standing with the people they report to will see this program as just another means to solidify their yes-man/yes-woman reputes in the name of serving readers. Besides, we already have real passion topics spread ad nauseum on our web pages -- photos of scantily dressed, beer-clutching women, preferably with a suggestive look in their eye. If we want to double-down on passion, let's start running some real cheese and beefcake on our print pages and web pages and let readers/viewers vote on the hottest eye candy. Hell with government coverage. Give people what they want -- more sex!

  15. 10:10 a.m. ... you have alerted the world that the emperor has no clothes.

    Now let that mental image of Dubow nekked roll around in your mind for a while.

  16. $50 for an hour of passion talk? Any bonus for heavy breathing?

  17. Somebody somewhere
    In the heat of the night
    Lookin' pretty dangerous
    Runnin' out of patience
    Tonight in the city
    You won't find any pity
    Hearts are bein' twisted
    Another lover cheated, cheated
    In the bars and the cafes (Passion)
    In the streets and the alleys (Passion)
    Lot of pertending (Passion)
    Everybody's searching (Passion)
    * Once in love you're never out of danger
    One hot night spent with a stranger
    All you wanted was somebody
    To hold on to (yeah)
    Passion, passion, passion, passion
    New York, Moscow (Passion)
    Hong Kong, Tokyo (Passion)
    Paris and Bangkok (Passsion)
    Lot ofpeople ain't got (Pasion)
    Hear it on the radio (Passion)
    { From: http://www.elyrics.net/read/r/rod-stewart-lyrics/passion-lyrics.html }
    Read it in the paper (Passsion)
    Hear it in the churches (Passion)
    See it in the schoolyard (Passion)
    (* Repeat 2 times)
    Somebody to hold on to
    Alone in your bed at night (Passion)
    It's a half past midnight (Passion)
    As you turn out your side light (Passion)
    Ooh something ain't right (Passion)
    There's no passion, there's no passion
    There's no passion, I need passion
    You need passion, we need passion
    Can't live without passion
    Won't live without passion
    Can't live without passion
    Even the president needs passion
    Everybody I know needs some passion
    Some people die and kill for passion
    Nobody admits they need passion
    Some people are scared of passion......

  18. I wonder how many people are going to talk about Timmy and life in Harmony during their search for Passions. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passions

  19. Since when did passionate people require payment for discussing their passion?

    This is insane.

  20. Maybe some of you news folks don't realize that payment to focus group participants has been standard for many, many years. Just ask the few remaining people in your marketing department -- if there are any left (and they've been there for a few years). Research companies set the standard and in fact the $50 payment has been used for a long time now -- $75 is closer to the going rate these days.

  21. $1010 I'd sell them my opinion for half the going rate, but I can't give it away in my newsroom. Management is so self-absorbed it doesn't occur to them that any of the journalists out there omight have a clue. No wonder they're pulling their hairs out. Left to themselves, they invent things like the ContentOne Dashboard ... intended I guess to frustrate, delay and obscure. I'd pay $50 to see some of them use it! And they'd pay $500 to be exempted!


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