By: Megan Stein
We like to talk about ourselves. Whether it be with our close friends, family members or even in the classroom, our favorite examples are often taken from our personal lives. But, when it comes to writing, putting yourself in the story is not always the best decision. When is putting “I” in the story appropriate and when should you go the extra lengths to cut yourself out?
A recent article featured on FolioMag.com discussed the various ways that journalism has evolved over the years and how slowly but surely, the author has creeped into the main plot of the story. Some authors have gone so far as to insult their interviewees or make personal judgments clear to the audience.
For example, in a Vanity Fair article featuring Katy Perry, the author, Lisa Robinson, made her subject seem stupid. Even though Robinson continued to use an example from her personal life that tried to make the comment about Perry having to ask what a word meant less insulting, it still makes it obvious to the reader that the writer thinks her subject is on a lower level of intelligence.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, personal experience articles can be some of the most important stories. They allow the reader to connect with the reporter on a deeper level and showcase the human side of the writer. Instead of the story being written by an unknown entity, personal experience in a story can build trust and confidence in the writer. Trust, especially in the age of new media, is one of the most important ways a writer can create a following and become successful.
I have a hard time deciding how to approach this topic. Some stories require “I” to be mentioned because it completes the story. However, as the article mentions, the writer does not need to include themselves in the story every time. Their opinions are not always necessary and should, therefore, be left out of the article. Sometimes there isn’t a cut and dry answer to a question and the decision lies in the hands of the writer.
Personal experience can often make or break a story. Do you prefer to include yourself in articles? Do you often find yourself not caring enough about the writer to read their experience?