How to treat your readers

Like adults. Even if some of them don’t like it. Reihan Salam at National Review:

I am a conservative, but I’m also of the view that exposing people to potentially new, unfamiliar, uncongenial, and perhaps even offensive ideas isn’t akin to exposing them to, say, some kind of deadly pollutant. That is, my working assumption is that my readers are adults who don’t suffer from sensibilities so exquisitely delicate that even the slightest exposure to, say, a link to a “modest proposal” by two economists (known for their free market views) featured on VoxEU will give them the shakes. If I’m wrong, I’m sorry to say that you’re going to have to update your bookmarks or find some way to fiddle with your browser to block this URL.

There was always pressure to become lazy and not push readers, but in the age of analytics it’s much more obvious. The stats can tell you in real-time how much it’s costing you to push them. Reihan’s approach is laudable. But we can’t count on individual actors to do this. We need strong journalistic norms and perhaps rules within media organizations to push back against the temptation to merely preach to the converted.

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