In the me-ification of the digital age, disclosing any kernel about yourself has become the norm. But when does it go too far? And when should you keep your gayness to yourself and let the reader enjoy the story?
In a Sunday NYT story on Robin Leach, star of TV’s Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous and now a journalist for the Las Vegas Sun on the strip, the writer, Brooks Barnes, an L.A.-based media writer, pauses midway through to fully disclose that he’s gay. It was akin to a loud belch that just wasn’t necessary. Couldn’t he have contained that for just a few graphs more, like 10 and not included it at all? Worst of all, he doesn’t even say ‘excuse me.’ Questions an editor should’ve asked before hitting the publish key: How is it relevant to the story? And why does anyone need to know where you’re from and what you watched on TV when you were 10? Please, spare us any details about yourself.
The disclosure: “(Personal note: When I was 10 years old and growing up in a decidedly bling-free Montana, I used to program the VCR to record “Lifestyles.” Yes, I came out of the womb this gay.)”
Guess what? Leach is a spicy enough character who can carry a story without the author ruining it with a quick self dump. How about keeping the focus where it should be – on him – and leave your need to me-ify your story where it belongs: In the center of your narcissistic soul.
Life is distracting enough these days. Do we really want our stories cluttered with mind-numbing details about ourselves? (Full disclosure: At some point today I ate four small meatballs.) See how distracting that is?
Unless the writer had sex with Leach during the reporting of his story or otherwise discussed sexual orientation with him, there was so sane reason to include the admission.
See the story if you haven’t consumed your limit of NYT‘s stories this month.