Write for others, not yourself


I’ve noticed a disturbing trend in The Bona Venture lately. We seem to be fostering some excellent bloggers, but below average journalists. Let me be clear: anyone that writes for the BV is a citizen journalist, regardless of major.
I want to preface this by saying that the op-ed page is a place for freedom of thought and political discourse that should be protected at all costs, but there’s a reason those articles go in the opinion section. We also have a features section, that offers students a space for more lenient construction and personal voice, but the priority of those stories should still be to the readers and not the writer.
A problem I have identified—when removing “I” statements from news stories, and reading the selections offered by the other sections—is gratuitous self-promotion.
Why would you belittle the accomplishments of someone else to make a statement about yourself? What makes your personal commentary more important than the content you’re talking about?
Furthermore, you shouldn’t have to tell people that you’re clever or capable or crafty. Your construction should speak for itself.
As a journalist, you have a duty to provide information to your readers in concise and accessible language, but by spending so much time inflating your own egos, you’re detracting from the story at hand and doing your readers a disservice.
If you can’t find what’s interesting about the story—other than your own opinion—then you’re asking the wrong questions or using the wrong expressions.
Success is not often linked with humility, but as a writer it should be. You’re not more important than any other writer and you’re certainly not more important than the news.
If you spent less time trying to convince everyone that you’re a good writer and more time writing the words that say it for you, you’d realize that excellent writing is self-promotion enough.

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