Blog: Read On

Burt Ross


None of the above is remotely true (oh my, just lost most of my readers). I bet I caught your attention though, and at least some of you might read on now. This column has nothing to do with fake news or any other kind of news for that matter, but occasionally I need to make a point.

Recently I was having a wonderful lunch with my friend Brad Smith of Malibu when he told me he had just read my column. You cannot begin to know what pleasure it brings me when somebody tells me this. I asked Brad whether he liked the column. There was a slight pause when Brad replied, “I only read the first paragraph.”

I was devastated. I forget what I had written about, but obviously the opening paragraph did not sufficiently grab Brad. You can now realize the pressure I am under not simply to write an entertaining column but also to grab you the reader in the very first paragraph and to never let you go. You can understand when I beg your indulgence to take a mighty gamble and to read a couple of more paragraphs in the hope you might find something worthy before checking out.

 I do like to tell a story which often builds to a punch line or climax, and occasionally I like to tease the reader. It’s a little like love making, but not nearly as satisfying. In other words, give me a chance, be patient, and one never knows—do one?

We live in an instant gratification universe where the attention span of most adults is around 45 seconds. If you view most television sitcoms (we live in Malibu so this is mandatory viewing), each scene lasts less than a minute which corresponds pretty much to our attention span. People are in a hurry. We all want the punchline fast and furious. Those of us who are a bit longer in the tooth are willing to wait, but even our patience has its limits.

So let’s make a deal. I promise to be less long winded (not a chance), and to get to the point quicker (not a chance), and all I ask is that you the reader get past the lead paragraph and read on. If you are not satisfied, you can always blame it on the politicians since that’s what we like to do anyway.