Obscure Box

Thoughts from inside the obscure box

July 17, 2008

The truth about lists

Posted by : Michael Lund
Filed under : Media, Online, Print

Some one's finally spilled the beans about all those lists you read in newspapers, magazines and now online.

You know the ones. Top 10 things to do with a banana, top 5 things to do on your own, or the top 3 things you can do with a list.

The Times in the UK has now given us the latest "List: 10 things that are surprisingly good for you" (Monday 14 July 2008).

Read like the usual stuff with a mix of something serious and something funny.

My favourite though was left to the end.

10 Newspaper lists. Counter-intuitive, this one, and a bit controversial. Experts are divided but anecdotal evidence suggests that reading long lists in newspapers can help reduce stress and the risk of "Karoshi" - the Japanese term for death by overwork. They're definitely good for newspapers: give a lowly-paid researcher or journalist access to a computer terminal, show them how to use Google and Wikipedia and you're sorted. On a slow news day, lists help fill up space in the Dead Wood Edition. Clever website editors commission very long ones to provide extra "hits" in the silly season, although they rarely bother reading right down to the final paragraph.

Enough said.

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All thoughts and comments here are the honestly held personal opinion of Michael Lund and are based on the information available at the time of publication.