Cookin’ Up a Good Story – Act Like a Chef

October 22, 2009 at 11:49 am Leave a comment

TV news should be more like today’s foodie shows. Maybe it’s just because I love to eat. I mean, I go to bed thinking about breakfast. I finish breakfast thinking about lunch – it goes like that. In between meals, work (and duties as Math Dad Homework Helper), I sit down in front of the tube, watching either news programs or Food Network. And I notice great dis-similarities between the two. In fact, many times they are the exact opposite of what they should be.

Take Alton Brown’s Good Eats, for example. And compare it to, say Countdown with Keith Holbermann.

recipesFirst, I will call these, respectively, one cooking show and one news program. Brown definitely cooks in a highly educational and entertaining format. Holbermann’s hour is certainly analysis and opinion, but he is covering the latest news topics, and most viewers get news information from it. It’s “news” no matter how you slice the analysis (as is O’Reilly Factor, Hannity, Hardball and others).

What the best food shows do well – and what needs to be mimicked by reporters and analysts alike – is the step-by-step transparency of information delivery. Brown takes that to new heights of scientific analysis not before seen in food programming. And I’m not scientist, but when he talks about proteins or fats and the science of food, it elevates the story-telling experience to deliver understanding as complete as the recipe delivery. All the while it’s compelling and entertaining.

Opposite that is the loud and emotional Holbermann, delivery his news and analysis in a ” Listen here” and “Believe what I say” strategy that is as appealing as what Brown cleans from his fridge between season breaks.

It’s not the subject matter that interests me – Alton Brown can cook up Liver-n-Onions and I’m glued to the set. He reveals his process, deals in facts, and completes the delivery in an honest and believable manner. Holbermann – and he’s not alone here – might deliver a tasty feature, too. But without running through the recipe of how he created that tasty treat, I’m left to wonder about its origin.

If you watch something being made, you believe it. You don’t have to like it – I don’t want to watch the production of Twinkies or Kentucky Fried Chicken. But if I did witness the process, at least I would be aware of the facts and I would trust the products more.

Looking into the recipes of Balloon Boy story, or the phony US Chamber of Commerce PR might have stopped these stories before they became stories.  Now we’re left with far too much media trying to convert this burned Balloon Boy pot roast into a filet mignon – meanwhile none of us are hungry for this any longer.

If you have story to tell, be prepared to share the recipe.


Entry filed under: Branding, Communications, journalism, Social Media, Writing. Tags: , , , , , , .

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