What an editor learns about human nature.
Bruce W. Radford is executive editor of Public Utilities Fortnightly. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A few weeks ago I went to lunch with an energy industry publisher - a man whose name will certainly ring a bell with many of you - but who surprised me no end when he put forth his own personal view to me and others sitting around the table on what works best today in the editing and publishing business.
"Play on fear and aggravation," he proclaimed. "That's what I've learned."
"Figure out what makes people mad," he continued, "and then provide it. Let others know that you share their vexation - their worry, fear, and anger."
"You mean like Rupert Murdoch and Fox News," said another man at the table, sitting to my left.
This idea came as a shock, but in practice proves difficult to counter. Such strategy has led many in the business to unparalleled success - whether you measure it in readers, subscribers, eyeballs or whatever. But I tell you I could not have found this advice any more foreign to the way I've always gone about the job.
For me the joy in writing and editing has always revolved around learning new things - and the delight that comes with it when you realize you have a platform for sharing that joy with readers. Should I admit now that for years I've gotten it all wrong?