Making it personal

Media moguls—journalism moguls, anyway—need two sets of skills. They have to be able to select and package material from the world in a way that gives it order and narrative drive and swagger. They also have to forge, through creativity, cunning, and force, a set of arrangements with customers, competitors, governments, advertisers, production facilities, and distribution networks which can generate a lot of money. Even in an era of focus groups and marketing research, any news publication that attracts an audience has to have a personality, which means that it has to bear the stamp of a real person.
—Nicholas Lemann on Joseph Pulitzer, William Randolf Hearst, Barney Kilgore, and Rupert Murdoch in “Paper Tigers”, The New Yorker, April 13, 2009

[To a friend on what I liked about her latest blog posting.]

“It’s like the Lauren ad from Microsoft. Using the recession to talk about things holds a lot of serious interest,” I said.

“That’s what I think too,” my friend replied, “But I remember when I used to make references to it in posts for someone else, the editor would always delete them.”

“He hails from a school that’s outdated. The biggest blogs make it personal. Take Orangette—that’s a blog about cooking. Why is it one of the most popular blogs? Or ZenHabits—how did it in two years become one of the top self-help sites?

“When I write personal articles with wide application, they take off on FeedBurner.

“It’s about making it personal, without taking it personally.

My problem is I always take it personally, 😉 ” I finished.

She laughed. “Well I already know what I’m going to write tonight!”

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