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Community Champion

How *not* to kill a news cycle ...

OK, now, I don't want to get accused of "controversial political statements" so I'm not naming any names, all right?

 

But lets, hypothetically and purely for the sake of argument, say that some document or piece of news is going to come out, and you want to minimize the attention paid to it.  (Lets call it the Miller Time Report, just for illustrative purposes.)

 

Now, the right way to ensure that bad news is buried is to release but distract.  For example, if you are a company called "Fact"book, and you have yet another egregious failure of security and privacy to report, you do  it an hour after the release of the Miller Time Report, which you know lots of people are interested in.  In fact, if you have two pieces of bad news, release them both at the same time, just after the Miller Time Report, and that way lots of people don't actually realize that you made two mistakes, since they are all mostly interested in the Miller Time Report and won't read yours in any detail.

 

Now, if you are responsible for releasing the Miller Time Report, and it's a huge report (say, something along the lines of 400 pages), you might think it clever to release it in a difficult format, like an unsearchable PDF.  This means that people can't go searching for details they think might be in it.  People, even reporters, are basically lazy, and you might think that this will discourage them from actually having to read the whole report.

 

That's actually a bad idea, on two counts.  First, it's not that hard for technically adept people to run the document through OCR (optical character recognition) and create a searchable document, and release that themselves.

 

The second issue is that, while most people are basically lazy, when a whole bunch of people are interested in something, then, even if you make it difficult, they will put in the work.  And, if you make it hard for them to find the highlights, then, by forcing them to read the whole thing, you risk the fact that they will, over time, find all kinds of interesting bits and pieces.  And, because it's taking them time to read the whole thing, the bits and pieces get released as they are found, and that extends the "news cycle" for the Miller Time Report.  A kind kind of corollary of the Streisand Effect takes over, and what you tried to minimize gets extended, instead.


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