• seperator

Do you like short and snappy?

When you are in the newspaper business, you learn to put your whole point in the first sentence of every news story.

If a reader stops there, he has the gist of it and you have done a great job as a writer.

People then gather important knowledge from the story with a minimal effort.

The whole point of online news is to keep people dangling for as long as possible. This can even be measured and results are provided to us.

The longer we keep you dangling, the better.

This approach to writing seems to be infecting everybody.

I had an email this morning from someone that was rather lengthy. It sports footnotes and charts.

It could be boiled down into a single question:

What’s the attrition rate of cents released by the Mint to circulation?

Another way of phrasing that is to ask, of all new cents that enter the banking system, how many stay there to do the work of making change and how many end up in jars and dresser drawers where they sit for months or years?

The reader cites a study he has found that says 74 percent of new cents leak out of the system. This means the Mint could reduce its annual mintage requirements by that amount if it could only figure out a way to persuade the public to stop saving the coins in their many private little stashes and use them.

Unfortunately, that is a losing battle.

It has been since the Mint tried to persuade the public to use their cents in a national campaign in the mid 1970s.

It didn’t work then.

Four decades of rising prices makes the cents even less useful now than they were then.

These facts could be used as more reasons to abolish the denomination, but that debate turns more on emotional attachment by the public to the idea of having cents than on any other factor.

There, that’s my take without footnotes, without charts and without greater length.

I guess I make a terrible online writer.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is editor of the weekly newspaper “Numismatic News.”

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