It’s not me. It’s you.

If you are giving me your opinion, give me your opinion about something relevant.

One of my biggest pet peeves about college journalists is when they write self-serving, pointless columns.

Write columns about issues, not yourselves. Write columns about people making a difference, not how you think you are making a difference. Write columns about events that shape your readers’ world, not about your little corner of the globe.

One of the tricks I teach student journalists is to write their columns the way they want to. O.K. Now write an alternative column without using the personal pronoun “I.”

Tricky, isn’t it?

The best columnists don’t write about themselves. But they do develop personalities. They do become celebrities. They do have a brand. And they do it without making themselves the focus of their columns. People like Dave Barry, that get to talk about themselves for a living are rich for a reason. They are rare. And, if you look at their pieces, they use themselves to illustrate a larger issue.

So what advice do I have?

This. Write about someone else. And write from your center.

When you have the common college moment, “Oh, shit. I have a column,” don’t go straight to writing about yourself. Find something that moves you. Find something that pisses you off. Find something that needs fixing. Find something that is uplifting or inspiring.

Find something that isn’t YOU.



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