February 14 is a day of strategic romantic importance to millions of people around the world.
For the Arizona Republic this year, the (idealized) romance and (big) business of Valentine’s Day is of strategic importance to the newspaper’s future.
The emotion laden annual celebration of love is perfect fodder for the solicitation of user-generated contributions.
WNBC asks viewers “How did you meet your sweetheart?” and offers a shot at online Valentine’s Day “fame”: “Is there a good story behind how you met your Valentine? Submit your story, and we'll post some of the best stories for everyone to read.”
The Arizona Republic is soliciting reader contributions for their Valentine’s Day stories, but seeks decidedly less romantic scenarios. The Arizona Republic is asking readers to “Share your Valentine’s disasters,” Valentine's Day “horror stories,” specifically.
Why? The local newspaper believes it has found a “fun” formula to spur “a different kind of community conversation.”
The Arizona Republic defines its notion of “disaster” or "horror story":
We mean a true account of a Valentine's Day you somehow botched or that was botched for reasons beyond your control. The more unusual or unique, the better.
The newspaper explains why it is “taking this detour from the usually more sober coverage of local government and local schools”:
Our overall mission (is) to provide you as much information as possible about your community… Not long ago, a newspaper executive from another city wrote a column lamenting the absence of enough fun in a newspaper…sometimes readers like to be engaged in a way that doesn't create angst, aggravation or even much thought. Reading about someone else's personal experiences is just another type of community conversation. In print and at our Web site we're committed to providing a forum for conversations of all kinds.