August, 2011

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The difference between topical journalism and advocacy

Monday, August 8th, 2011

Advocates give a shit. Journalists can’t afford to.

As the editor of a topical startup, I’m easily mistaken for an advocate on behalf of my audience. It’s true, there’s a strong resemblance: like an advocate, I start my day with the assumption that my audience deserves happiness and prosperity.

But this is the same assumption that starts the day for every media outlet in the world.

Here’s the difference between advocacy and journalism: Before doing anything, an advocate asks himself or herself: “What effect will this have?”

That’s the one question a journalist should almost never ask. There’s no quicker way to stifle an interesting or useful idea.