By Margherite Cermak
The time people spend on Facebook complaining about why the media doesn’t cover whichever story they're upset didn’t get covered is time that could be spent writing those stories. Many times we’ll see someone say something along the lines of Did you know xyz white kid was killed in the Kentucky by a black police officer? Why isn’t anyone covering that story? Where’s the outrage? Well, clearly if you live in Wyoming and you know about such an event that means that someone did cover the story and if you and one other person are outraged by it then, boom, there’s your outrage. What people are really wondering is why the things they are passionate about aren’t widely shared by the rest of the population, and the reason that is the case is not the fault of the media, it’s the fault of the audience.
There’s this general misconception that the media has some sort of responsibility to cover whatever stories the population wants them to and that there’s some sort of magic that makes stories go viral. That is simply not true. First of all, “The Media” is not a thing, it’s a collection of people who chose to spend their lives writing stories instead of bagging groceries. Some of these writers write stories perceived as nobel ones and some writers write fluff. The general media is not a government funded platform and tax dollars do not at all contribute to the news. At least not unless politicians are bribing news reporters which in any case is highly illegal, would be incredibly obvious, and for the news caster most likely dangerously impossible to deny. In fact, it’s illegal for the government to step in and tell anyone what to or not to write.
If you believe there is an injustice in the stories you are reading and that are available to you then the best thing to do is either pay someone to write about the topics you wish to read about or, even more effectively, write the articles yourself. Journalists are just writers, people who chose journalism as their career, freedom of speech laws mean that they can write about whatever they want. The success of a journalist depends on how often they write stuff that people actively read. If they’re independent then they aren’t being told what to write, their material isn’t regulated and unless they are publishing their work on reputable platform they usually aren’t even fact checked. And writers who aren’t independent, meaning they write for a company, are simply guided or directed to write what their bosses want them to write.
So, if there’s something we want to read, stories we want covered, it is up to us to make that happen. We, ourselves can seek out stories, document what we witness and publish them ourselves. Whether or not they strike outrage or inspiration in the folks who read these materials is completely dependent on the opinions of the readers and how well the piece was written. And as a new writer you’ll quickly realize that being asked why didn’t you write about this or that, is the equivalent of asking an artist why didn’t you paint a picture of this or that. You could spend you life writing about every thing every stranger requests of you, or you can tell them to write those stories themselves and continue writing about the things that are important to you from your own perspective, to further your own career. Which is not actually as hard as you may think.
Being a Professional Writer means you get paid for what you write, like me. Being a writer means you write stuff, and that stuff can be whatever your heart desires. An audience is responsible for how they feel and how they react to something they read, but it’s up to the writer of those stories to make people care. It’s up to the writer to deliver information to their audiences. And no one has the right to dictate which information they choose to deliver. If you have an issue you want people to be outraged about it’s up to you to make them care and up to you to deliver it. And if you find that after writing you want to write about fashion instead of police brutality because people pay more for that, then no one will stop you from choosing your words. Either way, here’s how to get the stories you feel need to be circulated out there.
First, you start with a subject; a topic or a specific event. Then you research the facts, if you wish to be accurate and then you write about it. Start with an introduction explaining what the piece will be about including the points you’re about to make. Audiences feel comfortable reading things in threes so choose three points to highlight. From there you begin composing what’s called the body of your article or essay starting with the first point you mentioned, moving on to the second point you mentioned, and finally the third. When you’ve completed the body of your piece finish it with a conclusion. Within your conclusion state your point of the piece and recount the three vital points you made. Writers do this because readers often read the first and last paragraphs of a lengthy piece before deciding to read the whole thing.
After that it’s up to you to get it published. If you desire, file with the Library of Congress to get it copy righted, which means only you have the right to copy, reproduce or profit off of it unless otherwise declared in writing. Obviously if you want the material to be free for all people to share it and spread it to everyone you know then you shouldn’t attack people for violating your copy right. Whether you file your piece with the Library of Congress, as long as you are the sole writer of the article than you are the owner no matter what. A copy right is just proof that you are in fact the writer if the issue ever is presented to a court of law. Otherwise, just putting your name on it is fine.
Getting an article, blog or essay published is easy if you aren’t particular about where it’s shown. Whenever I have a personal article that I really want published by mainstream media I’ll often donate it to whatever company I want highlighting it. Sometimes it works as long as the piece is relevant to what that company publishes and follows their guidelines. When it doesn’t work right away I keep at it until they have an opening or some slot they need to fill and then just like magic they publish the piece. Most places pay a lot of money to writers for content so if the exposure is important to you enough, donating it free of cost is likely to get it published because it saves a company money.
If you’re not particular about who publishes the piece then publish it yourself. Create a Blogspot or a Wordpress, or simply build a website. Post it to Facebook or any of the many other public social platforms. Write a hundred articles and compile them into a book that you can then submit to Kindle with their self publishing tool. Print out a million copies and spend your days placing them in people’s mailbox. Do whatever you think is going to get your article attention and then hope for the best. But keep in mind that you’ll never be able to control everyone’s reaction to whatever it is you wrote. We are all different, wildly different, and absolutely nothing is something everyone in the world cares about. All you can do is write clearly and honestly and expose it well. You can only do your best in making people care.
If outrageous stories are being circulated or are available but there isn’t a widespread outrage about it, that’s the fault of the audience not the media, not the writer. We as an audience we have the power to share and spread stories that we deem important for the world to see. If a writer is writing about things that we feel are important we have to support them. We have to ensure that these writers are successful by paying for their words and sharing them with everyone we know. Writers of important news have already done their part. They have researched and studied the topic, they have written passionately about it and they have published it making it available to all of us. And if you don’t like a product, don’t buy it. That’s the power as consumers that we have. Stop complaining about why people aren’t doing what you want them to do and do it yourself.