This just in: Tempe officially has been determined to be one of the news junkie capitals of America.
The distinction was bestowed by no less an authority than CNN, “The Most Trusted Name in Determining News Junkie Capitals of America.”
As such, the cable news network will stage a trivia event called the “Anderson Cooper 360º Challenge” in Tempe next week.
The event is part of a four-city road show that includes stops in the other newly christened news junkie capitals — Atlanta, Houston and Los Angeles.
The 360º Challenge is based on a daily news quiz segment on Anderson Cooper’s late afternoon news program. The competition involves answering current events questions on subjects as varied as William Rehnquist and Ashlee Simpson.
CNN says it used three criteria in identifying Tempe as a news junkie capital.
1) CNN and Cooper’s show get strong ratings in the metro Phoenix TV market. “We also look at viewer feedback. We get lots of e-mails from Tempe,” marketing executive Tonja Brown said.
2) CNN personnel found enthusiastic crowds at the presidential debate at Arizona State University on Oct. 13.
3) Equally important, several area restaurants and sports bars are wired by a company that runs trivia games.
Brown said she figures several factors are in play in Tempe. The city has an educated population because of ASU; and the city, along with the rest of the state, has been targeted by Bush and Kerry campaigns.
Other possibilities are that Tempe has sizable segments of retirees, who have time to keep abreast of current events; and transplants, who remain interested in affairs in their previous home states.
The daily quiz segment has been a popular addition to Cooper’s news program, the white-haired anchor said in a telephone interview Tuesday.
“People are really into it, which I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by,” he said. “People like when they feel they are connected to something in a way.”
Plus, the news industry overall is at its historical best, Cooper said.
“Everyone is incredibly critical of the media — and they should be; I mean, people should be watching with a very sort of jaundiced eye and a very careful eye — but I think we have more . . . opportunities to find information and to learn things than ever before,” he said.
A trivia question: Where will the news anchor be when the Anderson Cooper 360º Challenge stops at the Native New Yorker restaurant, 1301 E. Broadway Road, in Tempe, on the evening of Nov. 3?
Answer: New York. He’s scheduled to cover Congressional races on Election Day.