Hegemony of the headline

The biggest barrier to telling a story is figuring out why you should tell it.

When you read a headline, you should be able to determine pretty quickly why someone thought that story was worthwhile.

That’s a problem.

Real conversations are filled with things beside Grand Statements Concerning Important Matters (GSCIM). There are empty noises meant to do nothing but break silence, jokes, tirades, measured back-and-forths, and so on. It’s a spontaneous mix, not a speech. Yet publishing works like speeches: you have a communication goal, and you move toward it like a coordinated army. You don’t TALK to people. Not because you don’t like them — because you don’t want to waste their time.

Why should a reader bother to read this?

Why does it matter?

To what group of people does it matter, and does that group have a considerable influence on society’s health or evolution? How do you determine this? Is this a reason to write a story?

Nate Silver has an interesting take on Grant Statements Concerning Important Matters (GSCIM):

In an extended rant, Silver explains his philosophy of honesty and the trouble with traditional journalism:

That’s not how a lot of journalism works, where it’s supposed to be the disembodied voice of The Washington Post, or The New York Times; it’s supposed to be so authoritative that people are terrified when they’re admitting that ‘Hey, there are things I don’t know; there are things that I bring from my point of view that not everyone might agree with.’ And, that makes it harder to be informal and I think really develop a trust with your audience in the long run.

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