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McFeely: You want Carson, we give you Carson

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Mike McFeely, Oct. 17, 2015Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor2 / 2

I don't care that Carson Wentz is engaged and it's disturbing that so many people do. I don't care about his fiancee's background and it's even more disturbing that so many people do. Next thing you know, North Dakotans will be clamoring for information about Carson's wedding details, honeymoon plans and child-bearing ambitions and strategy.

"They've gotta have at least two boys, spread four years apart! That'll give the Bison a Little Carson starting at quarterback for eight years!"

This newspaper and other local media were all over the Carson Is Off The Market story, in part because Wentz put the big news on social media. So he's not innocent here, either. And the article proved to be popular online, trending as one of our most-read stories for the better part of three days.

It continues the never-ending march of Carson coverage that began a couple of years ago after he returned from an injury to lead North Dakota State University's football team to a national title and eventually became the No. 2 overall pick in the NFL draft. I have been part and parcel to much of that coverage, mostly football-related. So I'm not innocent here, either.

But personal-life stuff? No. Don't care. None of my business. Unless he adopts a rock-star lifestyle and winds up passed out on the floor of a strip club covered in a pile of Jack Daniels bottles and cocaine, nothing about Wentz's personal life interests me.

But that doesn't matter. We, the media in general and this newspaper in specific, will continue to follow Wentz's every move, professional and personal, because you care. Maybe not you, the actual person reading these words, but you the public in general.

We know this, factually. That's one of the great revolutions in this digital age of media. Using online analytics, we know exactly what you're reading. We have specific data on the stories you're reading, how long you're reading them, where you're clicking after reading a specific story and dozens of other tidbits of information about your habits.

For a dinosaur like me, whose first newspaper stories were clacked out double-spaced on an electric typewriter, this is eye-opening. We actually know what interests you, the consumer of our product.

It wasn't always this way. Back in the day we wrote articles about what we deemed newsworthy, you bought the newspaper and (presumably) read most of the articles. Take it or leave it.

Technology has changed that, for better and worse. Now we know what interests you and what doesn't interest you. That's good. We need to be careful we don't exclusively make our decisions based on data, but we can use it judiciously.

But stories about Carson? Yeah, they're not going anywhere. We'd probably be wise to post a feed of his social media accounts on our home page.

Carson had a whites-only omelette and a banana for breakfast! And he took his dogs for a walk! OMG!

I don't care. But you do, apparently. And sometimes we have to listen.

Mike McFeely
Mike McFeely is a WDAY (970 AM) radio host and a columnist for The Forum. You can respond to Mike's columns by listening to AM-970 from 8:30-11 a.m. weekdays.
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