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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Doing Something Right

There's a phrase often said when a writer draws a lot of ire from readers about his or hers work: "Well, I must be doing something right." With a large amount of page views, comments, Facebook shares, and tweets to back this up, a writer can think a purpose has been served, and a message is coming across.

I don't totally believe that.

Writers complain (usually on Twitter) when "nobody" cares about an article they wrote when page views are low. Conversely, they'll boast about how many people clicked on a link to justify their take. It's all a measure of how people apparently care in the digital age.

What I've seen is when someone has a brash take on a topic (a trend in music, a concert review, etc.) and the headline really amplifies the gist of the article. This is written to be "the truth," when ultimately, it's an opinion, and hopefully, a well-informed one that is backed up with facts.

But facts can be relative when they are overshadowed by how people feel about things.

I've always tried to write about stuff I care about with as much accuracy as possible. I have never set out to write something with the intent of pissing people off. I do my research and ask questions that research cannot give.

I'm not a hot take machine, even though I have had strong differences of opinion on things over the years and have vocalized them. I don't think I've done a good job or bad job if I've received a large amount of negative responses. I can wonder if I presented my take to the best of my ability.

What usually pisses people off is when someone tries to make a strong point, gives false information, and makes empty claims that can't be backed up. What's "right" about that? You can make your opinion known, but if there are massive holes in your argument, you look like a fool. But if you justify your foolishness by the number of clicks, messages, tweets, and Facebook shares you had, you're deluding yourself.

Most of the time, I receive messages from people when I make an error in my reporting. Whether it's talking about the tenure of a band member or the current job of a man running for a political office, if I'm wrong, I let my editor know to make a change in the article. If I claimed that I don't care, then I'm not doing my job properly.

Maybe I'm too earnest in my approach, but I've never found fault in writing what's in my heart. I don't believe I'd ever have clicks in my heart more than a story to tell.