Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Today's challenge: Editors who want a story to say something that your sources aren't

Freelance writing sure does offer a lot of variety ... at least of problems.

Today's problem is a fun one: I'm working with an "editor" -- who, unfortunately, is actually a salesman -- who wants my story to say something that my sources did not say. In fact, the people I interviewed for the story have said something completely different from what my "editor" wants the story to say.

The problem is a simple one: My salesman/editor wants a story that's more positive than what my sources have been giving me. Now, this editor wants to to somehow write around what my sources have said to be more positive.

I've expressed my concerns. But my editor is worried that our advertisers won't like the story. And this, I'm afraid, is the heart of the problem.

Advertisers are hard to find these days for print magazines. This makes salesmen more apt to jump through hoops to keep them as happy as possible, even when it doesn't serve the interest of the readers.

This has long been an issue with one of the trade magazines for which I write. It's just gotten worse as the economy has tanked.

I've pretty much excused myself, as much as possible, from the rest of this story. I expressed my concern and told my "editor" that I don't want to put false words in the mouths of my sources.

This hasn't made me especially popular today. But then again, when is a freelance writer ever that popular? It's seems like it's been a long time, at least for me.

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