MSNBC, you want to catch the ear of a multi-tasking, half-listening cable TV viewer? Forget the shouting kitschy overkill of, say, your “MONSTER SUPER TUESDAY” ad.

Instead, try a little earnestness.

For example, I just — automatic reaction — gave my undivided attention to the very earnest and optimistic voice emanating from MSNBC. The voice (so out of place on cable TV you just have to tune in!) stopped me in my tracks and I turned and listened as Justin Rockefeller, a founder of Generation Engage, chatted with an MSNBC anchor about the coveted “Youth Vote,” (including the insight that “young people tend to not have a lot of money.”)

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.