Re: Not Wanted--Technical Writers

Subject: Re: Not Wanted--Technical Writers
From: Brian Martin <martin -at- SODALIA -dot- IT>
Date: Fri, 19 Dec 1997 08:58:54 +0100

I was gonna say what Wayne Douglas said:

>What we have here is the usual journalistic scenario: Set up a straw man
>(all tech writing sucks), lard in PR prose from someone who will "save the
>day" by doing something "innovative" or "creative," and sprinkle with
>copious detail for "authenticity." Basic Reporting 101 - taught in every
>Journalism School in the land. It's simple, formulaic, and infinitely
>repeatable - much like technical writing. And it's as accurate as it can be
>before moving on to the next assignment.

What this points out is that, unfortunately, journalists are often
lackeys, not necessarily a to-be-praised, fault-free group of
prestigeous award winners. The Washington Post got what it wanted-- our
interest. And the instigator of the article got the publicity he was
seeking as well.

Another profession that could be faulted here is the ubiquitous PR
agency, almost certainly to be behind this article. They, too, are
simply looking for a hook, and a buck.

Perhaps technical writers could take this example to heart. In a
competitive world, we all need to be looking for those hooks.

Somebody else made the point that her work was clean in the early
stages, then got cluttered up in the revision process by other
non-writers who thought they knew better. She didn't quit and go home.
Neither does a reporter quit and go home when assigned to an article
that cuts a lot of corners. We all need to put bread on the table. We
all need to survive another day to pursue (I surmise) the best work we

Will there every be a Pulizer for Technical Writing? Probably not.
Perhaps the best technical writing remains behind the scenes.
Unfortunately, there's a lot of "dirty-work" that needs to be done along
the way to the BIG prize., or

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