This article was published by Kuro-kuro: Para sa Ikauunlad ng Pilipinas,
April 26 2011.
There is politics in writing. Not just art and discipline.
Excessive editorial restriction or censorship may deny a writer’s voice, to a point that it defeats the purpose of writing.
Editors need to be aware of the restrictions they impose. Though there are certain reasons that compel editors to do such kind of editorial restriction, a good editor shall maintain his or her editorial independence, in terms of deciding, which articles are worthy to be published and which are not. On the one hand, writers need to have the wisdom to realize if a certain editorial system is already confining, alienating and unhealthy.
Maintaining the Quality of an Article
The noblest reason that one may associate to editorial restriction has something to do with the preservation of quality writing and journalism. Editors, as part of their jobs need to assure that the basket of stories is notable and well written. The relevance of a story and the veracity or the worthiness of a certain story/subject are indeed a consideration.
However, to take hold of a good story is useless, if it is not rendered well. To give justice to a certain story means that writers are able to exhaust sources of information that can help in building their respective pieces of discourse. But, this does not necessarily mean that one needs to limit information-gathering to articles or sources, which can only bring good to a discourse. At times, presenting the opposite or the other side of an issue being discussed adds credence to an article.
Further, a good piece of discourse takes into account both the form and the substance. To reiterate, a good story will be rendered useless if writers or journalists fail to communicate key points to its potential audience. Of course, an article free of errors is what every editor would want to see.
For new writers, it is recommended to apply at once, the idea of “abide first, before you complain” in dealing with editors. However, this does not suggest that one needs to surrender his or her entire conviction and principles just to satisfy an editor’s taste (or the entire editorial system). Give an allowance or a certain period to learn how the editorial procedure works. After observing and experiencing varying situations, decide whether you want to pursue it or not.
Corporate-oriented writing may stimulate editorial restrictions, which are also corporate in nature. In a system, either a writing site or a publishing institution, whose only aim is to expand its market and reach, the reasons for writing may be compromised.
Editors, who are under the spell of corporate systems may impose restrictions, which can directly kill the voice of the writers. Since there is commercial interest that needs to be protected, some articles, analysis and comments, even if they are well-founded by research are disabled, if not suspended as these may convey a certain degree of influence and/or persuasive effect to the audience’s mind.
They cannot write or report all things, since the corporate system has the ability to disable articles, even without prior notice. And for a writer or a journalist, who finds this as means of livelihood, he or she is left with no choice than to write articles, which satisfy the requirements of the system. In the same way, an editor, who is also under a corporate system, may be left with no choice than to edit out and to suspend politically-charged articles that may pose potential threats.
Editors, under the corporate system may also have the fear to be demoted when they do not act according to the ideals of the system. Principled writers and journalists always find this corporate-oriented scheme as their principal reason to step-out of the system and to discontinue doing assignments.
Excessive editorial restrictions kill the voice of the writer. It may emasculate the idea of being a writer. It may also defeat the purpose of writing. These reasons that suppress the voice of writers and the freedom to probe on many different socio-political, socio-economic and socio-cultural issues justify the inception of what we call, alternative media or alternative journalism.
The Dirty Corporate Ladder
Let’s assume that a writer-editor relationship exists in a corporate institution.
Some editors, who view good writers as threats to their editorial positions resort to being more personal in assessing articles. We know for a fact, the power of the editor is always the decisive, if not the victorious one. Good writers who contribute good stories or pieces of discourse may experience the dirt of corporate ladder, which fades an editor’s objectivity in the name of a corporate position.
The Idea of and Reasons for Writing
A writer may realize, that the way he or she interprets and respects the idea of and reasons for writing are totally different from what his or her editor wishes to exercise. In this case, a dedicated journalist may feel that the mere definition of what an article should be is being downplayed. A writer may likewise feel that his or her purpose as a writer is being dissolved.
A writer or a journalist, if given a chance to possess a sustainable material condition, will definitely find his or her way out of this kind of editorial restriction or censorship. These elements may eventually deny one’s passion to continue writing in the future.