Presidential picks, American Idol-style
If editors and publishers can overlook this seeming repudiation of their wisdom, they can build valuable new engagement with their readers – and non-readers – by taking a cue from American Idol.
Rather than publishing just the usual single, well-crafted opus cranked out by the anonymous editorial-page staff, newspapers can invite readers to submit their own endorsements for the candidate of their choice.
Once editors pick, polish and publish the best of the endorsements in print and on the web, readers would be invited to select for their favorite citizen-penned editorial. Cutting-edge newspapers could encourage people to vote via their mobile phones, just like American Idol.
The contest would be marketed by a viral online campaign leveraging things like Facebook (where Barack Obama has more than 2 million friends and John McCain has 560,098 pals) and the multitude of blogs that have flowered in the rich political ferment. It also could be publicized on local radio and television.
The presidential bake-off could bring a hundreds of fresh readers to the newspaper and its website – including, especially, the younger consumers who statistically eschew newspapers but, by all accounts, are jazzed by this year’s presidential contest.
If they liked what they saw, they might come back again.