When is it news and when is it overkill?

There’s a tricky line in journalism between covering a story the public is interested in and overkill.

The Skaha Lake Park waterslide issue has certainly dominated the news, not just in The Herald, but several other news agencies in the South Okanagan. Many readers, we’re sure, are tired, but others can’t get enough of this story.

 In the news, many controversial issues quickly die a natural death, some quicker than others.

The school superintendent’s 23 per cent pay raise upset Penticton and Summerland residents but eventually went away because there’s not another chapter.

With Skaha Park, the story will continue even though Penticton City Council hopes it will go away because “the lease has been signed.”

There could be legal action. Petitions will eventually be presented. If it gets off the ground there will be construction. If everything does go well, there will be an opening day.

By comparison, what would the reaction of Canadians be right now if the national media said, “We’re not going to cover the Mike Duffy trial because it’s overkill?”

Outrage.

With the advent of the Internet, newspapers are now able to correctly monitor which stories are being read and even discussed.

CNN in the U.S. hammers stories to death. When the Malaysian flight went down in the Indian Ocean they reported on it for weeks — and nothing new had happened.

In the early 1990s, CNN went on the air and Gulf War I broke out. The rest is history. OJ Simpson, Michael Jackson, September 11, Gulf War II, the Florida election, the California Governor’s recall… when CNN sinks its teeth into a good story they hang on.

Not every American is interested in crime or pro football, others don’t own a vinyl copy of “Thriller.” These stories were covered because audiences demanded they were.

Most South Okanagan residents are talking waterslides at the coffee clubs, at yoga class, in the pubs and around the water cooler at work.

News is dictated by what the public is interested in.

James Miller is managing editor of The Herald.