The Digital Journalist
Jim Colburn In Central America: Doughnuts Rule
July 2004

by James Colburn

Cops have it down. Or maybe it's Homer Simpson. Either way, they've had it down for decades. Truth is, the world runs on doughnuts. Some of my best moments have involved doughnuts in one way or another. If there's a story conference scheduled for Tuesday morning and you show up with two dozen examples of Dunkin's best, the mood lightens, smiles start to form and everyone gets just a little friendlier. I figure someone, with enough money and a good distribution network, could rule the world if he or she could arrange to deliver just one decent doughnut to everyone in the world at exactly the same time.

Oh sure, call it a fantasy.

A few years back, on the day that Monica was due to show up at the Federal courthouse in Washington for her first appearance before the Ken Starr grand jury, there must have been a couple hundred photographers and videographers ringing the building. At 8 a.m., most of them had been there for hours, some for days, and I had five photographers at various points around the place keyed up and ready to try for the "picture of the year." I strolled up with four or five dozen doughnuts and a six-pack of coffee. The coffee, and first dibs on the doughnuts, went, of course, to my shooters but after that they were available to anyone. They came. It's always amazed me how fast people can run when offered the chance at a free piece of fried dough with some sugar sprinkled on top. The doughnuts were gone within minutes and it seemed as though the mood may have been lifted just a little bit.

Then, this past Monday, on my first day at a new job, I arranged to have a few dozen doughnuts (many thanks to Lamar's in Lincoln, Neb. … excellent doughnuts, cinnamon rolls, and some cream-filled things called Bismarcks) delivered to the newspaper for the editorial staff and another few dozen for the folks on the classified/ad sales floor. Suffice it to say they were a hit. A big hit. Almost a week later, I'm still getting words of thanks, all for a few doughnuts.

Hey there. Yes you. The guy with the white shirt and tie. Bring a few doughnuts, or whatever your local breakfast-food equivalent is, in to work once in a while. Maybe the folks at Paris Match could show up with an armload of chocolate croissants. In Hong Kong? In Buenos Aires? In Capetown? Who knows what could be on the menu. Let me know. Does it makes people smile first thing in the morning? I'd be interested in finding out.

© James Colburn
Contributing Writer