Viral Writer vs. Value Writer
Are you either or both?
Recently, I’ve been reading a lot of good journalistic articles. I particularly love the stories in the New York Times or the Atlantic. I’m not a newsreader. But, I love reading stories. I love the comprehensive coverage of a subject in a high-quality media outlet. For me, I don’t want to waste time flipping through “Top 10” articles. I want a good writer to walk me through the forest of ideas that inspired the writer to write the article in the first place. I prefer the work of a value-writer over the work of a viral writer any day.
This shows through my work. I love spending time interviewing experts, researching background stories, and then putting together the puzzle to give a comprehensive overview of problems/solutions in our society or our industries. In some ways, this is the kind of impactful work that I strived to do my entire career.
I respect viral writers.
Some of the best viral writers, especially on Medium are not just viral writers. They might write about viral topics, they deliver value at the same time. You won’t find “Top 10” articles from these writers. You will find their personal experiences and world views analyzed on paper in minute details on a viral topic.
These writers are storytellers. This is why they are successful.
People often say that journalism is boring. It’s not creative. It absolutely is creative.
I come from a creative writing background. In the business world, I was forced to adapt to a very rigid form of writing.
But, in the middle is where journalism lies.
The objective of good journalism is to inform. The internet in some ways made it too easy for journalists to publish in different outlets. Often, you will find “influencers” in the mix of that journalism.
We are in an era where it is difficult to find good journalism outside of reputable publications.
This is where good bloggers are filling the gap. Many viral bloggers are writing about topics that everyone’s interested in. In some ways, even though they don’t think of themselves as journalists, they are increasingly taking on the role.
Some famous video bloggers, podcasters, and other influencers are interviewing some of the biggest names in industries.
Often, they have more background knowledge than a journalist would.
Through gaining more knowledge in one knowledge area, these influencers become “thought leaders”, not because they wanted to become one. But, due to the value, they deliver every day, people end up labeling them as “thought leaders”.
This is the democratic world that the Internet was designed to be in the first place.
When readers can vote, comment, and engage with these “thought leaders” to gain knowledge, inspire discussions, and in turn use this knowledge in their work, it is the epitome of how media should work in the first place.
Look, I’m a starving writer. I just recently found my way to writing for some large publications. I get that any writer would appreciate a full-time job. This week, the look on my child’s face when we bought cookies for the first time in two months was priceless.
When I see journalists who might be working for viral media outlets chasing down the latest scoop on the duke of Cambridge, then spend their time writing impactful essays in other news outlets in a pen-name, I feel a kind of warmth.
This warmth is the knowledge that sometimes we, as writers can balance impactful work vs. work that is less so but pay well.
This kind of balance is literally the definition of a good career.
I really should change the title of this article to “Viral Writer and Value Writer”.
But, I will leave it for you to ponder on for your amusement.
In this day and age, as a writer, perhaps the best way to achieve balance is to go through the daily exercise of creating content that is important to you.
In turn, the rewards are the knowledge that you can feed your family while contributing good karma into the universe.
Thanks for reading.