One of our local NPR stations, WOSU-FM, has introduced a new feature that gets hyped every morning during my commute. The new feature is “Question Of The Day.” During the morning drive, the announcer mentions the feature, gives you the “question of the day,” and then asks you to go to the WOSU website and type in your response. The responses then are supposed to be read during the afternoon news shows, although I haven’t heard that done yet.
Today the “Question Of The Day” was actually two questions: “When does life begin” and “When do we become ‘persons'”? Pretty weighty questions, eh? You could really get into a serious philosophical/religious/ethical/legal discussion about such questions. So far as I can tell, however, the questions haven’t provoked that kind of debate. The “Question Of The Day” appears to have received a handful of brief comments after 10 hours. Other recent “Questions Of The Day” — questions like “Are you worried about the growing population?” — look to have gotten similarly skimpy responses.
I’m not sure what the point of the feature is — I suspect the real hope is to drive traffic to the WOSU website — but I think the “Question Of The Day” concept is a dud. In my view, the media already spends way too much time “surveying” and “sampling” the shifting, often uninformed tides of public opinion, and I particularly don’t care what a handful of self-selected people have to say about whatever intentionally provocative questions WOSU might decide to ask. How about just reporting actual news, instead?