When I started this “community magazine”, I had a few simple bullets in mind. The site would have to:
- Cater primarily to do-it-yourself or “Maker” types
- Avoid “me too” stories and rabid trend-following
- Strive for independence, transparency and objectivity
I think for the most part the first two are consistently obeyed, with the sad acknowledgment that sticking with bullet number two as a matter of principle often keeps general readership of new stories low.
It’s the last part of the last bullet point that can really get sticky though. I’ve noticed that the more my personal thoughts creep into a story, the higher the immediate (and overall) readership. Opinion-mongering was something I actually wanted to avoid when I first put this thing together– especially since I wanted (and still do) to see the content come from multiple contributors.
This desire for objectivity is deeply ingrained and stems from my upbringing. I remember watching TV news shows in the 1970s, and noting that there were very clear demarcations between reporting and editorializing. The same was true for newspapers. As the digital age blurred the lines, my belief that fact and fiction should be firmly firewalled was just reinforced. Journalistic misadventures by famous writers at big-name media outlets just hammered the point home.
But what I often forget in my zeal for factual foundations is that a good writer can report objectively and, in the same article, intersperse his or her own thoughts without violating tenets of ethical journalism… personal or professional. The challenge is to make the forays into opinion very, very clear.
I want to be that writer.
Readers in general seem to thirst for analysis, for writers to sift the gold from the garbage in the day’s deluge of data and modulate the noise into signal. That’s often difficult to accomplish without the writer divulging his own background and position. And if the latter leaks through by unwitting accident, the reader may feel betrayed. It’s better, I believe, to always be obvious about author dogma.
I will be that writer.
The risk for me here is succumbing to the click-baiter mentality of rank sensationalism as a reader draw. It’s extremely easy to concoct provocative headlines; you see them everywhere, everyday. Many of them not even supporting the story to follow. In complete violation of what I have been taught about true journalism.
On the other hand, dry journalism is no fun. Not for me to write, nor for you to read. I’m going to do some deep, objective analysis of the articles posted here the first half of 2012, and see if I can figure out what it is that brings you here, and encourages you to share. Your comments are of course very welcome as well.
I don’t want to narrow the scope down too far, but there’s no point in writing what isn’t read. Especially since I don’t get paid for doing this. And I’ll share some site data in a following editorial.
Thanks for your time. I know you have many compelling inputs screaming for your eyeballs.