RE: Tech writing saves journalism - objectivity is impossible

Subject: RE: Tech writing saves journalism - objectivity is impossible
From: "Fetzner, Bill" <BFetzner -at- amsuper -dot- com>
To: 'Edwin Skau' <eddy -dot- skau -at- gmail -dot- com>, techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Tue, 30 May 2006 10:55:07 -0400

Edwin Skau writes: <<Nobody can honestly be objective.>>

First of all, love that quote from WRH, which helps explain why so many
newspapers today contain far more advertising than news. But about being
objective: this seems to get back to the original point that we can be proud
of our tech writing profession because we're not, in general, departing from
a commitment to truth, objectivity and comprehensiveness despite the "cool"
reception our works commonly receive. Quite the opposite, in fact, as is
regularly proven by comments in this forum that seek ever better ways to
communicate to the intended audience, and to recognize "cultural
anthropology" as Sean interjected in this thread.

In fact, tech writers are very cognizant of cultural factors in their
writing, and usually try hard to deal with them. I think, for example, of
our common need to address different audiences because of differences they
may have in the ways they think and act. And then there are some of us who
are asked to write for other cultures, requiring us to standardize our
language even more than usual to the point of writing in simplified English.
That's real dedication to clarity and unambiguity, and takes a high degree
of objectivity to pull it off well.

If tech writers can do it, and I argue that we're trying hard to equip
ourselves with tools and methods for enhancing objectively, then why not
news writers whose job, after all, is to give us the facts so that we can
decide? Imagine a technical writer indulging either freely or covertly in
his biases, such as hyping the help system while trashing the user
interface. I'd say he is an is an embarrassment to his profession and
doesn't deserve to keep that job.

Some writers strive for a higher level of objectively than others, and are a
credit to their profession. I'd argue that some professions make it "job
one" as well.
~ Bill

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