“New study, re-writes evolution.”
How (or) would YOU present a highly technical, specialist article to the general populous?
Your editor (who pays you) has deadlines and targets for time, costs, readership and competing rivals’ articles.
This blog is in response to (yet) another article which supposedly re-writes the theory of (in this case, shark) evolution. It tries to highlight the problem of and reasons for such article headings, looks at and compares the results of changing them from the origi8nal and asks what, if anything, can or should be done given the circumstances.
I owned a shop once and one customer said that it would be nice if we had wheel chair access toilets. We had wheelchair access and wheelchair access toilets were available very close by in a larger shop. The cost of putting them in was prohibitive too, meaning no such shop to use in the first place, thus defeating the object. By trying to offer more, I (and all) would have lost all.
Many of the good quality newspapers are struggling right now with such low readership. On the other hand, the British red tops (which are far more popular and reflect the greater national readership population) do pretty well. I’m sure there is a direct correlation between the quality of journalism and the survivability of the press in the UK. Too few want pure quality. Some may recall the Sunday Sport newspaper post I posted some time ago, demonstrating the level it goes to for readership. And true, those wanting it are the driving force of the editor.
Spin, exaggeration, scraping the barrel, lies are things that sell. Few want straight facts. And I believe that goes for many of us, here too.
In fact I have posted original research here and had little response, but when posting articles (even) from the same said report, as edited in a more popular or simplified magazine or newspaper with graphics and a fancy tag line, it gets views… It also gets read! And it also gets criticised for exaggeration or a misguided title. But it gets read as opposed to not read. If you want a technical article published in a general, miscellaneous, non-academic daily/weekly/monthly, you have to make very significant changes to attract any interest.
Yes, even Time magazine, National Geographic and Nature have succumbed to targeting with overly dramatic images or titles which can play into the hands of science deniers. Look at it from the publisher’s perspective – they have to sell, compete, pay staff and survive. Where does one draw the line? It is a difficult one, when one considers all aspects or places oneself in the position of an editor.
How many of us subscribe to the journals which publish original work? Would you digest it, understand the words? If competing with an edition of Punch or Private eye, which do you go for? Are you privileged or rich enough to access these journals?
Does or did anyone get psychological tiredness, perhaps at university? When you want to do something you enjoy and it not taxing, you are full of energy and up for it. When it comes to study, you suddenly feel really tired. I did and still do. Youtube is a great help and bridge/gap builder!
There is similar discussion in Christian and Muslim circles about Holy books. Some traditionalists argue that only the original language should be used, as it is the word of God and should not be changed. But only those few who know those languages can access it, but it is argued that all should learn it). Or should it be translated into many languages and perhaps simplified or adjusted to, ‘meaning related’ context so that more can understand and access it, at the price of some meaning, clarity or eloquence (this is an aspect of hermeneutics).
Here's an article (just made up) showing 4 different views and asking which one or style would YOU read or be attracted to, if any, perhaps if the subject matter interested you (which is another trick that journalists try to widen to get readership)?