'Begin with the clear conception that the subject of deepest interest to the average human being is himself.' -- Horace Greeley
Was the founder of the old New York Tribune overly cynical or simply realistic in his advice to a friend who planned to start a newspaper?
When it comes to news, we seldom ignore exciting or shocking events far away. But nearest is dearest for truly capturing our attention, if not our hearts.
“What Greeley said is true,” say Campbell and Wolseley in How to Report and Write the News. “Today—as a century ago—the news consumer reads what interests him. This interest has its origin in his expectation of some immediate or delayed benefit.”
What interests you? Perhaps your list includes health, wealth, advancement, safety, achievement, companionship, entertainment, and inspiration. Whether you’re writing a news story or a press release, a white paper or user manual, a novel, a how-to article, a routine e-mail message or a love letter, you communicate about what you care about.
But will you reader care about it, too? When you write “grand opening tomorrow” or “the scheduling software includes a genetic algorithm,” will your reader care? Ah, that depends on the benefits!
Grand opening tomorrow = products you need, 25% off. Genetic algorithm = less down time, better throughput.
Your attention to unity, coherence and emphasis in your writing will help you show others what you care about. But, if you want your message to be understood and bring about a positive response from your readers, remember nearest-dearest.