Writers Wield the Power
edited: Wednesday, July 24, 2002
By Carol Kluz
Posted: Wednesday, July 24, 2002
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Discerning readers should look upon the written word with a skeptical eye.
There is an inherent power in the written word. Writers influence people by the words they put down. Reading makes people think and feel. A smart person is often referred to as well-read.
The imaginary stories in fiction can affect readers as easily as factual writing because an author’s standards and general beliefs are portrayed through his characters. What motivates an author when he molds a character? Often it’s someone whom an author feels idyllic or in sync with his perception of a good guy or gal. It could be discerned from someone admired or even unconsciously from a book or article he read about someone.
Writing that teaches subtle lessons about life, such as children’s books with hidden messages about being kind to others and to animals and obeying laws and parents are small examples of influence. Authors out to convey a message to adults can manage as well through either fiction or non fiction.
The problem with the power of writing is the same as with any other type of power. It can be abusive and even be a form of brain-washing if people don’t learn to discern between fact and opinion. Often there are concerted efforts through the written word, via articles and advertising, to mold people’s thinking. We see this in the plethora of books on politics and politicians. Are any of them unbiased? –doubtful.
Sometimes the power of writing can have a good and longer lasting effect, especially when the words are written from the heart with genuine feeling. Such an influential book was Uncle Tom’s Cabin. That author, with her written words, was able to influence people to act to free the slaves. By her writing, she humanized black people. Yet, there was no mention in her book about freeing slaves. She simply wrote a book using real people in real situations for that time. The fact that she molded her characters from slaves is where she was able to convey her own feelings about her disapproval of slavery.
Journalists are supposed to write the facts when writing articles, but I know from first hand experience that it just isn’t so. Some are guilty of reading hype themselves before writing their ‘factual’ stories about the same hyped subject. There was an article written by AP writers about my hometown when it gained national attention over an incident. That written article implied that the reporters had come here to gather information. There ‘facts’ were nothing but fiction and the whole article asinine in its misinformation.
Thousands of writers help people through articles from how to prevent colic in infants to planning retirement and multiple other subjects. It’s the unethical ones that pollute the pages with half-truths and rants meant to harm. As for readers, the only way they will learn to discern between what is truth, fiction or outright lies is to read everything with a skeptical eye and read many articles or books on the same subject by various authors.