9:41 a.m. - July 20, 2006
Location: The Editorial Board Room at SmedCo.
Reason: Discussing the perceived loss of quality of the signature product, ďSmedís CornerĒ.
The transcript follows:
Flunky 1: Sir, we did Bartelby a few weeks ago and that was a smash!
Chief: A smash, huh? It confused a lot of people!
Flunky 1: That was the point, to get people to think and react.
Chief: Well, some people donít like to be duped.
Flunky 1: Yeah, but I think that got passed around a little bit.
Chief: Anyway, the writing isnít as good, and the ideas are stale. What happened to the classic Smedís Corner? You know, the KY Jelly riff, the heartstrings about the kids and Liz, the listing of the patron saints. Ideas like that. We need them, people!
Flunky 2: Weíre trying sir.
Flunky 1: These things just donít happen overnight. Some of the work is tied up in lab and in testing.
Chief: Maybe we test too much! Maybe we spend too much time in the lab! Are any of these pieces close to roll out?
Flunky 2: Let me seeÖthereís something on Craigslist in BFE land that is close to coming together. Also one on the restaurants here in this town, and one on Ďdirty bubblegumí music.
Chief: Iíve read treatments of that dirty bubblegum music. Again, with the obscure. Iím not convinced. It seems inconsequential and tangential.
Flunky 1: Weíve been our best when weíve been edgy and obscure.
Flunky 2: And the whole franchise is built on inconsequential and tangential.
Chief: No, itís not. Itís built on heart and soul and feeling and emotion. Itís built on blood, sweat, and tears and toil and triumph.
Flunky 2: Uh, chief. I donít remember a lot of blood and sweat in the Lazytown essay.
Chief: But there was in the one about Smed and his sweating.
Flunky 1: Yeah, but that was also silly.
Chief: And revealing.
Flunky 1: But you didnít like the ear thing.
Chief: Thereís a difference, really.
Flunky 2: Oh, I donít know.
Chief: ListenÖwhat we need is more stories of the kids. More stories of the family, and of the inanity.
Flunky 1: Weíre working on some dinnertime stuff. It takes time.
Chief: Well, cook something up then.
Flunky 2: Yeah, but thereís the deal with Lizís mom. That could happen any time now and you donít want to have something silly on the page when that happens, do you?
Chief: Weíll deal with that when the time comes.
Flunky 1: We could ask her to write something else.
Chief: Maybe. Maybe her reaction to the Zolofted Smed?
Flunky 2: Yeah, that may work.
Chief: Mark it down. Itís going on the whiteboard.
Flunky 1: What about music?
Chief: Well, I do know Smed is hard at work at a big mix, and then a couple of others will follow. Iíll have to check the progress. But what are the trends with his music posts?
Flunky 2: It depends.
Chief: I donít want that answer. I want data Ė go gather it and give me a report in the morning.
Flunky 2: Yes sir. But sir, I really think the quality hasnít diminished.
Chief: Any ideas why comments are down and views are steady?
Flunky 2: Yeah, itís summertime. People are on vacation and out doing things!
Chief: Yes, but we need to give them a reason to bring their laptops on vacation and plug into the Wi-Fi.
Flunky 1: Some people donít like doing that sir. They like to be unplugged.
Chief: Ah, well then. Any other ideas on how to grow readership?
Flunky 2: Well, you could go back to Blogmad.
Chief: Thatís faux, really. No one really reads that much, they just click through to get more views. Besides, I want readers who STAY! I want content to make them STAY! We need better content!
Flunky 1: Well, we can always tell Smed to do some wackier, inane things.
Chief: That may work, but those things canít be staged. They need to be organic.
Flunky 2: So tripping down the back stairs again with a full glass of wine is out.
Chief: That horse is out of the barn already. How about something on him and the cats?
Flunky 1: OK.
Chief: Put that one on the whiteboard.
Flunky 2: Roger wilco.
Chief: Letís get cracking. Tell the lab and the test marketers to up production. Hire more temps if you need to. I donít want to just throw bodies at this, but we need better production, better development and better stories. Dismissed!