One of several freelance jobs that I do is writing for a quarterly print publication in Tokyo. The article topics are a mixture of anecdotes, psychology, and culture in Japan. Many of them have a basis in blog posts that I have done over the last several years. When the editor asks me for story ideas, I often refer him to a post and say that I could write about that topic, but that the blog post itself needs to be completely rewritten and altered to suit the magazine.
Even though I have written for the publication for over a year now, the editor always tells me the same things each time, despite my warning that the blog post does not represent the final product, but is merely a pointer to some expanded thoughts on the topic. The first point the editor makes is that the magazine does not print articles written from a first person perspective, nor does it write about personal experiences. The second is that I must not mention any negative points associated with the topic (and Japan), but focus only on the positive.
The reason for the latter has never been explained to me, but as someone who has more than a few brain cells to rub together, I have concluded that it is because the focus of the magazine is light on the whole, and because the target groups of the magazine include foreign residents who want to know more about Japan to enjoy themselves here, and Japanese people studying English by reading a publication in that language.
Though I write about Japan for my blog in what I believe is a fairly balanced way, including both the negative and positive points of a particular issue, I don’t have a problem with the magazine editor’s requests. I’m being paid to write the way they want an article written, so they have the right to ask that content be framed in a certain fashion to suit their tone and demographic interests. The magazine is not a news publication and its content could never be mistaken for hard-hitting or revealing journalism. It’s not important that the roughly 800-word articles that I write encompass every aspect of the topic. It’s only important that they be interesting, reasonably informative, and, if possible, entertaining.