Wick Communications

Pay me to write good stuff

In Writing on September 17, 2015 at 12:41 pm

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Here’s an object lesson that I know none of you need. Nevertheless, it doesn’t hurt to show the line from time to time so that no one ever thinks to cross it.

The Watertown Daily Times has a story this week about a nearby publisher of tourism magazines who reportedly attempted to trade positive coverage of the area for lodging and meals, and when that failed, slammed the locals in his publications. Further, he is alleged to have plagiarized much of that work. They say he sent threatening emails. He apparently “creeped out” one of his freelance writers and put her name on stuff she didn’t write.

First of all, don’t do that. Any of it. Obviously. I suppose that is one strategy if, like some fictional gypsy, you intend to roam the world leaving havoc in your wake. But we live here. That won’t work. Even on a much smaller scale. People talk. You will be exposed.

OK, now that the obvious stuff is out of the way, what about this story in the Daily Times?

For my money, it’s just too much. I don’t know how it played in the print edition, but it’s more than 1,800 words where about 400 would do. There seems to be a certain glee in showing a charlatan to be what he is. And it’s a bit of inside baseball.

Readers deserve to know that this rogue publisher is out there. The lede of the story is good. I think a couple quotes from the chamber of commerce and the paragraph outlining his failed business strategy would suffice. I don’t think we need the waitress calling him a “weirdo,” or the business owner who says he “smelled like an ashtray.” …

It’s tempting to go for the body slam when you know you have a charlatan in your grasp. I get it. Hell, I’m sure I’ve done it. Particularly when it’s a guy who threatens to take some of your advertising dollars. I suggest, when confronted with an open sewer, that you step over the mess rather than wade around in it.

The worst thing that can happen is for readers to gloss over what you are saying and simply perceive you to be attacking a competitor. Don’t give them that opportunity.

(No gratuities were accepted in exchange for this post on The Kicker. And I’ve never been to Alexandria Bay, though it seems lovely this time of year.)

Clay

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