Giving in to What's Popular
March 8, 2012 6:53pm CST
I have been writing articles online for about 8 years now and was having a discussion with a friend who does the same thing... We were talking about what it means to "give in" to what's popular, because she writes a lot about the music industry and had just written an article about the Justin Bieber paternity suit and how parents could use that to talk to their kids about teen pregnancy. She said she "felt dirty" for giving in to the subject but knew she was going to get a ton of hits off of it because it was popular and "news" at the time. It was nothing like anything she usually writes and made her feel like her integrity had been compromised. So where is "the line" between keeping your personal integrity as a writer and giving in to sensationalism in order to make a buck?
12 Mar 12
Unfortunately, I haven't been in it for as long as you have, so it makes it sort of a student-teacher thing here; but I think it makes up a very important part of a writer's evolution. I had read this discussion about the "evergreen" topics, if you have written articles well in categories that you would expect a reader to read 100 years from now, you don't really have to give in to anything. But if you (and your friend) are sort of the "everyday" writers i.e. after an article is written, it enjoys a huge amount of success for a week, a month, or even a year, but then does nothing, you'll have to constantly evolve. Thankfully, I stay as far away from the "sensational" topics as possible.
9 Mar 12
Oooh, that's a good question. Of course, the answer depends on your view and values. Some writers believe in the power of marketing and see nothing wrong with using sensational headlines to hook their readers, provided the content of their work is accurate and well-reasoned. Others believe in sensationalising everything - hyperbole, unchecked allegations, careful wording to make everything sound worse than it is - to get the most traffic and the most money. I'm in the category of writers who try to stick to their principles at all times. That means I might try to find a better title for an article but the content has to be accurate, interesting, useful and well-written. I place my "line" much closer to the "truth" side of things because of this. I can totally understand the "feeling dirty" thing. I'd feel the same way, to be honest. I guess the important question is whether it does anyone any harm: if not, it's purely your personal values that are affected!
9 Mar 12
It's hard to describe where the line begins and where it ends. As writers, what we produce is consumed by the audience that we envisioned - who will read and who will need it for their own purposes. Writing is a basically a audience -demanded profession, you get what you want and what you paid for (most of the time anyway). In terms of sensationalism, it depends on your outlook as a writer. Some writers do it for the money and we cannot blame them. It is the part of their job and there should be certain acceptance of that. In case of your friend, it seems to me that her article will be a great benefit, not only to Jsutin Bieber (PR, nuff said) and to the audience as well. We have to admit that some issues are only highlighted, talked about and written because celebrities and public figures do or talk about them. Personally, I think it is the actor and the issue which is sensationalized but using him and the issue as an example is not. Your friend might be riding the popularity wave but the intentions of the article as you stated seems good. If friend wrote it in a tasteful manner, there might be no cause or object of sensationalizing. Justin Bieber and his issue is just an enticing tool to make the reader see and read the article and hopefully, will get over the person in question.