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Holiday Shopping: A Reporter's Primer

For your convenience, a primer of every year’s holiday business reporting:

  1. Anywhere from a month to a week before Thanksgiving, a reporter speculates—while quoting a corporate spokesperson or two to meet the standards of good reporting—that retailers have high hopes that Black Friday will, what do you know, put them in the black.
  2. Thanksgiving week, newspapers and cable networks run a story or two or more about the most anticipated deals and the “hot” gifts to buy, thereby saving retailers gobs of cash on advertising.
  3. On Friday, editors and producers set photographers free to film shoppers pushing their way into stores and the long lines they are willing to endure; if there are old women falling down or men fighting over televisions, the images and stories get sent nationwide. At the same time, intrepid reporters speculate whether shoppers are spending as much money/credit as they spent last year.
  4. Saturday, reporters summarize Friday and punctuate their summaries with eager young women who camped at the door to Best Buy all night. Meanwhile, business desks await the sales reports, and the story leads on television as soon as it can. Usually, sales will be up or sales will be down from the previous year.
  5. Finally, from Sunday after Thanksgiving until New Year’s Eve reporters quote speculations about what all the results mean: sometimes they means the economy is good, and sometimes they mean it’s bad; sometimes they reveal that retailers are now waiting for an after-Christmas push; often they reveal that some hot items (see 2, above) didn’t sell as well as expected, which leads to more speculation about the meaning of it all.



At least one can hide from this sort of marketing if one wants…it doesn’t invade your dreams.

which is worse: marketers being marketers, or reporters being marketers?

I’m tempted to come up with something obfuscatory and overly clever, but I think I’ll just say that reporters being marketers is worse. It is the holiday season after all; the season for not being obfuscatory and overly clever.

It’s also not the season for challenging rejoinders—sorry about that. I too would be pissed if my cell phone went off to tell me about a crappy movie.

Bless us this holiday season!

In a partial defense of media coverage of shopping season: Anytime big groups of people get together for one purpose it is almost by definition newsworthy, especially when there’s tension or the potential for violence.

These huge shopping crowds seem to be close to a uniquely American event. In most foreigners’ stock inventory of iconic American images: moon-landing, fat people, guns, pop music, etc, there is also the spectacle of crowds stampeding through newly opened doors and stampeding over the inevitable stumblers.

As if it really matters what Neil Cavuto says, but yesterday he said that the media ignored the biggest shopping day of the year. Do people like him write the commentary a month ahead of time and leave blanks for the requisite “facts” to support their claims? I mean, he didn’t do any research, obviously.

Neil Cavuto is the dumbest man on TV.

i realize it’s something of non sequitor

Enjoyed that article, J.

I find it interesting the degree of social inequality that Americans tolerate, perhaps even celebrate. Comparable situations in a European country might well have sparked a revolution.

So successful has been our indoctrination with the idea that the rich are rich because they earned it, and the poor poor because they didn’t. It’s the most beneficial theology/cosmology for the ruling classes since the idea of the divine right of kings.