Respecting The Reader
Writing in b-to-b publications is sometimes slammed for āpress releaseā quality.
Many editors never actually worked in the subject they write about and
sometimes bring limited understanding and sophistication to the topic.
Thatās tough to do when your audience is the experts.
But writing in enthusiast media can be bad as well. Lazy, repetitive,
and sometimes serving as little more than a shill for advertisers. I
know itās toughāthereās only so many ways you can approach a particular
subject (ever try writing about paper supply four times a year?)
Obviously, there is excellent editorial among many enthusiast
magazinesāRunnerās World springs to mindājust as there is excellent
editorial in many b-to-b publications.
However, itās apparent that the writing is lacking when reading magazines
that deal with one of my own enthusiasms: shooting. Yes, I know,
editors based in the New York-area are supposed to be either weaving
baskets during Tracy Chapman concerts, queuing up outside Aer (or
whatever hotspot will replace it next month), or God, help us, blogging
incessantly in their spare time, but me, I like to pop off a few
rounds. The next best thing (or at least it would be) is to curl up
with a magazine dedicated to the sport.
But I canāt take the writing anymore. Iāve let several subscriptions
lapse because itās the same thing over and over. I donāt mean the
topicsāI mean the actual phrasing. Reading gun magazines requires
developing the skill to read between the lines, particularly for
product reviews which are often purposefully bland so as not to offend
advertisers. Example: āThe [insert model] was more than accurate enough
if I did my part.ā Translation: You couldnāt hit the broad side of a
barn with this thing.
Worse is the outright cheerleading. Recently, a large manufacturer
developed a manual locking system for some its products. There have
been reports that the locking mechanism engages automatically when
fired. But one publication seems to have gone on a crusade for this
advertiser, even allowing one of its columnistsāa professional trainer
who let that manufacturer produce a new product bearing the name of the
trainerās schoolāto refer to a portion of its readership as
āturd-suckersā for raising the issue.
I donāt know if thereās a problem with that manufacturerās design or
not. But I do know that seeing snide editorial defending this
advertiser is a big turn-off. Would a publisher ever publicly
address their advertisers as āturd-suckers?ā Treat your audience with
the respect they deserve. If you want to convince me, get the models in
question and do a legitimate test. Otherwise, I canāt wait until my
subscription is up.
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