Springfield, MO

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Stop The Presses

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by Dianne Elizabeth

No doubt you've read of the newest diet trends. There is the low-fat version; the high-fat, low carbohydrate diet; and that off-beat food fad, the balanced diet. Most of us losers can name a half-dozen more, but have you ever heard of a media diet?

A media diet means no newspapers, radio or television for at least a week. Trashy paperbacks, spy novels and murder mysteries are allowed. If you can stick to this diet for seven days and nights, you will be amazed at the results. Here's my true story.

When I left the country at the end of January for the winter meeting of Association of Area Business Publications (AABP) in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico someone has to attend these meetings of course, I looked at a lot of newspapers.

We studied business journals from around the nation, Canada and Puerto Rico, and I'll tell you more about this experience after a few more inches about the amazing media diet.

After leaving exotic Puerto Vallarta, we headed to the other side of our sunny neighbor to the south to the glistening white coral beaches of the Yucatan Peninsula. Thus began the week-long media diet. No television, no radio and no newspapers.

When we left Springfield, we were filled with anticipation in our office over the impending ballot to decide the fate of the proposed hotel-motel tax. Would Springfieldians pass up this opportunity to help develop existing resources as well as create a host of new projects including a civic center and a civic park?

I worried; I had heard some grousing, but nevertheless personally felt that a "no" vote would color and not in bright hues our business and cultural lives in Springfield and southwest Missouri for a long time to come.

Also when we left the country, we were already weary of the media's heavy breathing over Monica and Bill. We have enough intrigue in our own lives, thank you. I was happy that we did not have a television in our room and that my Spanish is not good enough to understand anything being discussed on the radio. I stuck to my Fodor's travel guide and Father Dowling murder mystery for a good read.

I did not realize the dramatic results of my media diet until after I returned to Springfield last Sunday night, strangely relaxed and hungry for red meat. Even after the hamburger, I felt light, light, light.

SBJ Managing Editor Paul Flemming gave me the news about Springfield's overwhelming support of the tax, and I've been in a great mood ever since. The people of Springfield have spoken, and loudly. I feel like this is one more sign that life and business in the Ozarks will keep on being very, very good.

My media diet helped me be glad to be home, even if it is February. It gave me time to think, perking up my drooping brain cells. I feel younger; stronger. I am thinking of charging money for this new diet plan!

At the AABP meeting was another affirming experience. When I look at our staff and their accomplishments, as well as the relatively small size of our marketplace, I am impressed with what this group of 20 is able to put out week after week.

When we look at the productivity of all SBJ departments and compare it with publications from the country's largest metro markets, with enviable revenues and giant staffs, I am filled with pride to be from Springfield, the smallest market with its own weekly business publication in the industry organization.

The fact that SBJ exists, and, in fact, thrives, is a huge compliment not only to this staff, but also to the bustling vitality of the business community here.

This summer, our editorial staff will enter a business journalism competition sponsored by the AABP, putting our writing, reporting and general coverage up for comparison with the "big boys and big girls" from larger cities like Cleveland, Little Rock, Vancouver and Los Angeles. I'll bet right now that we'll come out looking pretty good. Scratch that, very good!

The media diet is over now, and I'm back to gorging myself on print and broadcast. When I'm feeling totally stuffed, sluggish and depressed over my compulsive news consumption, I will try again.

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