Mario Cattabiani tracked the money flow in Pennsylvania state government like a master accountant. Rated as the most influential reporter in Harrisburg, Mario regularly lit up the front page of the Philadelphia Inquirer when I was the deputy managing editor for news.
Every March 10, I would send Mario a note: Happy Mario Day! I knew he and his son, also named Mario, had a ritual of celebrating March 10, or Mar.10, as their day.
Feb. 28 was Pancake Day. March 20 will be the first day of spring, which means free Italian Ice Day. A few days later brings us International Waffle Day, which drew syrupy coverage last year from Philadelphia to Palm Beach to Los Angeles. (Don’t confuse this with National Waffle Day, the August occasion that honors the day the government issued a patent for the waffle iron.)
Holidays are big business (A point illustrated in a book edited by my sister Maud Lavin: The Business of Holidays.) Silly or serious, holidays are also a chance for news organizations to capture and amplify community conversation. Search trends from Google prove that readers are interested.
Anniversaries? Yes. Here are some 2011 samples from a group of community news sites I edited:
We devote plenty of energy to discussing journalism’s big challenges and even larger opportunities. It’s worth also taking a few minutes to set up your own calendar so you remember to post a prompt on Facebook, to ask a question on Twitter, or to put up a short piece on your own website. It will take even less time to freshen a post on the same day next year and in the years after that. Readers will respond.
Mario, I hope you and your son have a great day today.