Writing With Standards

I have standards. I won’t press “publish” until I’m confident that I’m not contributing to the endless pile of excrement the web produces every day. I’m not what you would call a professional writer, but I try to write texts I would enjoy reading myself.

This post could be about a number of things. Tweeting every brain fart you happen to squeeze out is one of them, the recent spreading of lolspeak another. I however decided to dedicate this one to online journalism (excluding good online journalism mind you).

I know that the average attention span of an online visitor is about half of an ingress. I know news sites sell ad space with fancy click reports and other insignificant stats the advertisers shouldn’t be too interested in. I also know that journalists are probably competing on whose headlines gets the most clicks. I know but I don’t care, because the click wars are destroying the quality of online news. I couldn’t care less which yellow press magazine has the highest amount of web visitors; I want my content written with standards! Well, it’s of course possible that some sites just have really low standards, but that’s not really the point, the point is looking at what you have typed and being comfortable standing behind it.

Traditional newspapers are understandably trying to get a foothold in the online world, but the pace of events and reporting has apparently caught them with their pants down. News posts are typed as fast as possible to ride the click wave, and in the process proper quality gets axed. Not a week goes by that I don’t see something completely rubbish published and then silently edited as commenters point out the typos or even outright lies. Disgusting. It’s notable (and awesome) that most online-only sites leave the original text untouched (some sites also use strikethrough) and mark their edits clearly, perhaps that takes guts the traditional news corporations don’t possess.

It seems clear that the old journalistic self-righteousness still affects the news world. The change of mindset has been slow, and the changes mostly towards worse. In order to adapt to the new digital world order, it simply is not enough to send your writers to a copywriting course to learn click-for-more-headlines, I think we readers deserve more. Social media only adds to the vicious cycle, because since people don’t have the patience online to think about what they’ve read (if they read at all), utter bullshit gets shared. “Don’t spoil a good conversation with facts” is a too common sarcastic notion nowadays.

It’s not much but I’ve decided to start boycotting two of Finland’s biggest click hoarders you can still call news sites, funny enough they’re also the top 2 most visited sites here. Three weeks in and I already feel smarter.


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