Writing Should Open a Vein

As an editor, I come across way too many poorly written articles by young communication students and journalism graduates who should know better. They rely on lazy fact checking and shallow research, an unquestioned reliance on spell checkers. Their writing covers mostly generic and predictable topics. But most unnerving: many writers have no unique voice. The articles are complacent and timid, a boring, conform rehashing of predigested, safe thoughts that live in a vacuum. No history, no presence, no looking ahead. Too many stones left unturned. An easy read, no commitment asked.

Like. Share. Done.  

writing
The New Yorker, October 2014

This made me wonder whether young writers are afraid to speak out and give it their all. They want to be liked, thumbs up and a happy emoji attached. And even though they text and tweet with fervor about every conceivable aspect of their personal lives — in their writing, most won’t bare themselves. They lack the grit to tackle substantial, sometimes controversial and uncomfortable content.

And yet, they quickly find decent jobs and employment after they graduate. Professional journalists, on the other hand, editors and writers with years of editorial experience and pedigree, who have to clean up their copy, are shed aside. What does that say about our profession?

I never spoke at a graduation ceremony, but this is what I would say to this young, eager crowd.  

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