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Writing tip: Vision

Good morning to you, my friend.
Yes, it is your ink-stained editor back to nudge you into writing better.
Today we’re going to talk about vision.

Lloyd Huntington offered me an editing job because we shared a vision. I accepted his offer for the same reason.
Lloyd was editor of a morning and an afternoon newspaper.
This was back when people got most news from newspapers.

Amazingly, the two newspapers were not alike. The morning paper was authoritarian.It was a newspaper of wide influence in the state capital. It held its readers at arm’s length and told them what they needed to know.
The news it offered was important to influential people.
The afternoon newspaper was different.

It was lively, warm and told stories.
Lloyd had asked me what I thought of the two newspapers’ editing strategies.

Well, I said, if you want the truth, I said. Lloyd assured me that he did. Well, I said, if I could only read one, I would prefer the afternoon paper.
It was not only informative but entertaining.
I thought busy readers had short attention spans.
But they would read an interesting newspaper that seemed to care about them.

Lloyd’s face lit up like it was Christmas morning.
We talked for more than an hour about now dull newspapers could be enlivened.
We even talked about such basics s using “you” and “yours” in articles.
We talked about how to embrace readers.
How to show you cared about their concerns.
How to make sense for them of a complicated world.

Lloyd said the publisher didn’t care what he did with the afternoon newspaper.
The publisher was more concerned about the morning newspaper.
He wanted it to thunder.
He wanted it to be respected, even feared at the statehouse.
That was where the politicians divvied up the taxpayers’ money.

I had hoped Lloyd would offer me a job on the afternoon newspaper.
That was the kind of journalism I loved.

Of course, he didn’t. He wanted me on the morning newspaper as a co-conspirator. He wanted me to help warm up the morning newspaper and infuse it with stories.
Like thieves in the night, we set out to warm it up.
We would do as much as the publisher would let us get away with.

Lloyd had infused me with a sense of mission like no other editor had before.
That sense of mission and purpose has gone with my wife and me all these years.

We brought it into newsrooms where we have worked.
We brought it to editors and reporters it has been our privilege to coach.
I hope you are fortunate to work with editors like Lloyd.
Editors who come down off their lofty pedestals and tell it like it is.
If you don’t, I encourage you to find one.