Journalism Tips #14: ‘Quality Vs Quantity’

Thank you for joining us for another installment in our our ongoing Journalism Tips series. We started this column as a way to help aspiring writers get their start in music, but over the couple months we have been evolving into a place writers come to have their questions about life in the business answered. Today we are continuing that effort with a response to a question posed by multiple reader in regards to where aspiring writers should focus their efforts. If you have any questions about developing as a writer/blogger in music, please do not hesitate email and share your thoughts. We can also be found on Twitter and Facebook.

In an age of social connectivity, those who favor the idea of crafting well-placed, intricate quality content on the web are not alone in feeling outdone by those who choose to keep their online content as brief as possible.  

The argument of quality of content vs. quantity of content is one that has no clear answer — there is room in the digital world for both. Both hold merit, both play a role; however, being a personal advocate of the journalistic nature of “digging deeper” and garnering “all the facts,” [although the true meaning of both of these statements may be lost in this era…who knows?] I make a conscious effort in finding a suitable middle ground in the battle. A writer can be quick, while still delivering a substantial amount of quality information to the reader.

Finding this middle ground is the first of three ideas, or schools of thought, to be considered when attempting to better the quality of your daily content as a digital journalist. Let’s take a look at all three ideas and how each can be used in finding balance:

1. Give insightful information (finding the middle ground):

Finding the middle ground means creating a balance for your reader. Introduce the most timely information first, but don’t be afraid to add in your own creative voice and commentary along with the information. An artist you covered released a new song. When posting that song to your site, don’t be afraid to add a few thoughts on that track. A quick bout of banter is what could separate you from the next mediocre blogger. Dig deeper to find more information on that artist. Are they touring? Do they have a new record coming out? Are there pending festival appearances? This form of well-placed minucha add depth and create a frame for potential wiggle room in your creative writing.

2. Stand with your byline

Have some integrity. This is your career, your words, your writing. Do you want to create a name for yourself through laziness and simple aggregation of other’s words? Have an eye for picking out what you feel is important in a story and create an angle that caters to your readership. Do not be afraid to create and master a voice for yourself. Push yourself out of your comfort zone every chance you get. The idea of standing by your byline also means getting the facts right, every time. You are doing nothing but putting yourself and the quality of your content in jeopardy by falsifying information. Work hard, be creative, and make your byline worth a damn.

3.  Create a conversation with the reader

This was touched on briefly before, yet nonetheless important — be creative. Engage the reader with your own form of wit. Make the reader want to read more of your content. Do not be benign or mundane. Avoid fallacies and cliches. Find a sustainable rhythm with your writing that people do find gripping. Be clever in your appearance as a writer. Writing entertainment news for your website should not come off as monotonous. Look at each story with a different set of eyes and find new ways to engage the reader. Speak your mind, say something outlandish, hold your ground, ask a question, do anything you feel will get heads turning. Music writing has a sense of freedom most in the journalism business do not get to experience — do not take this for granted. Post your opinion and defend it. Who knows, you might even learn a thing or two from a reader.

Thank you, Haulix for the opportunity! If anyone wants to chat more about content quality or anything rock n’ roll, feel free to drop me a tweet @callinghomematt.

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.