Johnny Carson was one of the most brilliant comedians of my childhood. And the funniest part of his monologue was often when a joke bombed. Often it was what he called the “one too many” rule, when he was doing a series of jokes on a particular topic and went too far. It’s an easy rabbit hole to fall down.
If one is good, two is better. If two works, maybe we can get away with three. And if we get away with three…
Take a look at the photo in the post. That’s the actual newspaper that was delivered to my door. (Yes, I actually still subscribe to a paper newspaper. And pay a premium for it, just to read Dilbert, Dear Abby and the news on my baseball team.)
Everything in a newspaper is available online, a day before it gets printed. But ridiculous people like me are still willing to pay to wake up to a physical copy. Of course publishers are facing declining subscriber bases and trying to find new ways to generate revenue. I get that. But this???
What is the most important positioning of a newspaper? I suggest it is their bold logo, centered at the top of the paper above the headline. Logos like the Chicago Tribune, The Times of London, and Washington Post are literally icons. And what’s the most powerful element of a print newspaper? The compelling headline, which tells us the breaking news of the day. (Which if we're being honest, was yesterday's.) But look what happens to the logo and the headline when the paper whores out every possible revenue source and starts to resemble a NASCAR drivers suit.
So how do you know if you are going one too many? If you have to ask the question, you probably are.