These two headlines were “ripped” from one extremely popular social media site and show 2 different, but definitely related, issues.
These headlines represent unnecessary divisions we impose on ourselves. Even worse, these headlines highlight that a woman’s suicide alone isn’t newsworthy unless she happened to have dated someone famous or that murder isn’t newsworthy enough on its own, unless the murder victim doesn’t fit some norm. To put a fine point on it, why weren’t these headlines “Killer wanted in murder case” (despite the redundancy) and “Cathriona White dies of apparent suicide?” Why are 2 points that should be private being included in headlines? What benefit does including that the 21 year old who was murdered was a transgendered woman? Why should a woman be newsworthy based on a private relationship, that just happened to be with someone who was famous?
If we want to be a more warm, fuzzy, inclusive, and maybe, better species, we need to make a conscious effort to stop dividing ourselves. Not to belittle anyone’s past. Not to say these differences don’t matter. To remind ourselves that these differences do not stop us all from being human. To remind ourselves that each individual has worth, regardless of the genetic, environmental, or chosen differences, be they private or public.
To bring this around to what this blog is supposed to be about, let’s talk content stuff.
Many of us create content for the public to consume and engage with (there’s another reason we create content, but for the life of me, I can’t remember, and no, I’m pretty sure it’s not for the sake of the conversion). We want to grab that eyeball time and either pull at the reader’s heartstrings, rattle them, or inspire them. We want to see that they’ve come back to our content, shared our content, made a change in their life based on our content, and maybe, returned our investment of time and money in that content.
That also means that we have the power to make change. If your content sucks, adding all the hot buzz words isn’t going to help it. If your story is really 3 boring sentences, you are wasting your time and your audience’s time, no matter how much you bait their clicks. [Let us pause from seriousness and snicker at the jokes we could’ve made]. Trying to ignite flame wars, conflict, or tears isn’t a substitute for having good content that benefits your viewers.
If you want a real return on your investment, let’s try making an investment. Radical idea, I know. While we’re at it, maybe we should focus on the parts of our content that really matter.
It matters that a person was murdered, not that the victim was black, white, tan, gay, straight, bi, transgendered, neutered, old, young, married, single, divorced, cranky, or polka dotted. It matters that a person committed suicide, not that she may have at one point in her life been involved in a relationship with someone who is or was famous. Those points matter. The other points may be true as well, but those points exist because of genetics, environment, and personal choice, and while they shouldn’t be belittled, they shouldn’t be shoved onto center stage either.
If you need any other reason to stop focusing on stupid stuff, if you do something newsworthy, do you want your headline to be “Tall/short, fat/thin, smart/stupid, hot/ugly, hetero/homo/othersexual male/female person of [race/ethnicity] who is also [relationship status] and who once dated that person that some other people know does [thing]” or “Amazing [thing] done by this person!”?
You have the power to chose what you focus on. You have the power to decide what your readers see and don’t see. Let’s use that power for good.