alto , I understand what you’re saying here about blanket assumptions, but I hope you’re not being harder on yourself than necessary. In this conversation, I think we independent journalists (which I think is what nonfiction writing is basically, even if we’re not getting paid) are coming up against the reason why editors and style guides exist. Without them we have to figure out how to build credibility all by ourselves, and that’s always been a hard thing to do.
When we don’t have the built-in credibility of a specific newspaper or magazine, it’s harder to get readers to go along with us until they see our point. That’s why I think titles and subtitles are more important for us when we tackle difficult subjects. They are like an open hand, saying: this is what I have to offer you, my point will be close to this — will you come along for the ride? Titles are our first taste of a piece of writing and they color what we think of them while we read. Is this right or wrong, or just human? Taking a little more time to shape our thoughts when we critique, as you suggest, is always a good thing, though. I’m not trying to say anything against that. I just think we feel what we feel first, and that’s okay.
The body of Elliot Nichols ‘s piece was the truth he lived through, so I can accept it, language and all. But the title he held out to entice me in, didn’t bring me in at all. There the language worked against his message. I think he explored that pretty well today. I’m glad he did.