I was born in 1965. When I was growing up in Somerset, PA, winters were usually pretty brutal. Living towards the top of the Allegheny Mountains, I saw lots of snow and cold temperatures. Weather forecasters usually talked about a “cold snap” or a “wintry blast” which was a pocket of cold air dipping down from Canada or the Arctic Circle to inflict some brutally cold temperatures on us. I still remember January of 1976. We only had 5 days of school for the whole month because the thermometer almost never inched above zero degrees. Wind chills were brutal.

It’s been going on for a while now, but I’m becoming more aware of the sensationalism that is deliberately built into newscasts. It’s all meant to keep you, the interested viewer, glued to the source of the information.

Cold snaps are now referred to as the “Polar Vortex.” It’s been happening for years (at least in Somerset, PA). Now it has a new and ominous sounding name. It makes folks want to rush to the grocery store and stock up on milk, bread, and toilet paper. It you don’t live in the northeastern United States, you may not get the satirical humor in that last statement.

“Polar vortex” sounds a lot more serious than “it is downright cold outside.” Polar Vortex sounds like impending doom!

I was a volunteer fireman for thirty years. It’s rare that you pull into the scene of a house fire and find people dangling from the windows needing to be rescued. When I watch the news on TV now: “Breaking news! Fire crews were just dispatched to 123 Main Street. No word on if anyone is trapped inside. Stay tuned for continuing coverage.” Of course you’re going to be glued to your TV set, hoping to catch live/raw video of people dangling from the windows.

To attract more new collectors to the hobby, maybe we should employ some more sensationalism?

The USPS is issuing too many stamps. The Philatelic Vortex is sucking the money right out of collector’s pockets!

Breaking news! The USPS revealed 20 new stamp subjects for 2016. But Star Trek stamps that have been rumored were not included in today’s announcement. Stay tuned for more updates!

It sounds a lot more interesting than, “Hey Charlie. Any luck soaking those self-stick stamps?” Yawn!

If we want to attract more people to stamp collecting, we need some sensationalism and breaking news to get them hooked. It obviously works in the regular press. Maybe the hobby can benefit from these same tactics?