Remember your audience– and your audience doesn’t want to remember OJ

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

It was jarring. A relatively new-to-Buffalo TV news guy just referred to “former Bill OJ Simpson.” Um, yeah, we know dude. No need to remind us. Thanks.

There is no need for any further description of OJ Simpson. We all know who he is. If they are running some random story about a random old Bill, because he’s an old Bill, feel free to mention it.

But just landing in Buffalo, and deciding to start the latest on his current legal drama by reminding us of one of our most painful civic realities, just to show us that you, too, are aware of this heart-wrenching connection is too-smart by half and shouldn’t happen.

Personally, I’ve written and read hundreds of OJ stories as a news man, and never called him “former Bill OJ Simpson” on first reference. Ever. The words are superfluous, because we all know. What’s worse— we don’t want to hear about it, so no need to mention it.

Even worse than that, it had nothing to do with the story. I could write a book about why its a bad idea, and as a former news director, if you said that on my watch, I would write a book about it.

It’s not all or even mostly this guy’s fault. Part of the issue is the lack of surrounding crew. Ten years ago, you made that mistake once, and there were a dozen producers, photogs, etc to tell you the right thing to say. Now, chances are you are your own producer and photog.

A few months ago, a newbie weather guy mentioned elly-COTT-ville in a forecast. No one corrected the poor SOB and he continued to say it all morning.

I’m thankful we’re to the time of year when I can experience the youthful enthusiasm with which we’re told that one shouldn’t put their hand or foot in a snowblower. By a 22 year old woman with a mint julip accent— who may or not not have ever seen snow.

Like in anything else in life, you write for your audience. Not every fact which is new or interesting to you is new or interesting for your audience. It’s local news for local people. It’s not for someone from Germany or Florida or Rochester. It’s local….meant to appeal to locals.

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Steve Cichon

Steve Cichon writes about Buffalo’s pop culture history. His stories of Buffalo's past have appeared more than 1600 times in The Buffalo News. He's a proud Buffalonian helping the world experience the city he loves. Since the earliest days of the internet, Cichon's been creating content celebrating the people, places, and ideas that make Buffalo unique and special. The 25-year veteran of Buffalo radio and television has written five books and curates The Buffalo Stories Archives-- hundreds of thousands of books, images, and audio/visual media which tell the stories of who we are in Western New York.