8 Tips for Writing Content About Sensitive Topics
Content creation is a great way for businesses and bloggers alike to reach audiences and express themselves through a creative outlet. Depending on your goals, that may mean writing about a wide array of subjects.
While you should always strive to produce well-written, effective content, controversial and sensitive topics require a finesse that traditional blogging usually lacks.
Controversy sells, as they say, but that doesn’t mean you won’t want to be careful when publishing. A few clicks aren’t worth your status as a professional.
Learn how to write about sensitive topics with craft and care by using these eight helpful tips.
1) Treat The Subject With Respect
Your primary goal when writing about a controversial subject should be to shed light on a said topic. Whether you’re expressing your opinion or taking a more academic approach, it’s pertinent that you treat the subject with respect.
Take a serious, even journalistic approach to writing about sensitive topics. Even if you don’t consider yourself to be a traditional journalist, adopting a dedication to research will greatly improve your content.
Give your topic — and your audience, for that matter — the respect they deserve. Take the time to learn about the subject so you can speak with a greater sense of authority.
2) Check Your Biases
No matter how hard we try, none of us are truly objective 100 percent of the time. It’s in our DNA to take sides shaped by our beliefs and worldviews.
Those assigned a sensitive topic need to remember this, especially if you’re writing about a hot-button issue like politics.
While it’s virtually impossible to rid yourself of bias entirely, that doesn’t mean that you should present an opinion piece as straight-up news or fact.
Before you begin writing, take some time to evaluate your thoughts on the topic. Then, as you begin to outline your writing, ask yourself, “Are my biases coloring this work?”
You may have to organize your work differently, but acknowledging your bias can go a long way toward presenting your audience with a fair, impartial piece of content.
3) Give Your Audience A Heads Up
Different people are sensitive to different topics, as one may expect. After all, we each have different life experiences that shape how we view the world and can greatly affect our day to day lives.
Consider warning your audience ahead of time if a topic can bring up bad feelings or evoke anger.
Imagine reading an informative article on drug rehab centers only to have the other insert their personal opinion in the middle of the piece. It’d be jarring and would likely change the way you thought about the content.
Or, in some instances like reporting on atrocities or extreme violence, certain audience members may be more squeamish than others.
Even if it’s a small header above the article does wonders to protect your integrity and your audience. Furthermore, it simply shows that you care enough to consider your audience’s feelings.
4) Source Your Information
It isn’t enough to simply write about sensitive topics. You’ll need to come to the table with well-sourced, credible information that illustrates and supports your beliefs.
When searching for information, keep a few things in mind.
First, who is the author? Seek info from well-known and respected sources. Anyone can publish anything on the internet, make sure you’re not publishing misinformation.
Next, analyze how recent the source is. There may be newer research that strengthens or contradicts your argument entirely.
Finally, make sure that your research is properly sourced. It may seem silly to check your source’s source, but it can prevent biased sourcing or poorly formed arguments.
5) Present Both Sides Of The Issue
No matter how nuanced, it’s important to remember that there are two sides to every story. Even if your content only presents your position, it’s always a good idea to at least acknowledge counter-arguments.
Doing so shows that you’ve thought through your position and are more concerned with accuracy than being “right”.
6) Remember The Person On The Other Side Of The Screen
Technology is great for bringing us together, but it’s also a bit impersonal most of the time. As a result, it can be easy to forget that you’re addressing real people with real feelings, especially in an emotionally-charged piece.
Refrain from personal insults or mudslinging. Remember, these issues, and the people who believe differently, deserve your respect.
Empathize with the other side as much as possible. You don’t necessarily have to agree with their argument or even like them on a personal level.
But you should at least show a basic level of decency and respect. Take the high road whenever possible, and your audience will notice.
7) Keep It Tasteful
Controversy does, indeed, generate attention. But that isn’t always a good thing.
Keep your content tasteful, for your sake and your audience’s.
You don’t always need to get into the grisly details of a crime or use hateful rhetoric to get your point across. Keep a cool, level head and ask yourself if you’re presenting your subject (and self) in a proper and fair light.
Things like namecalling and mudslinging are quick ways to lose your audience’s trust.
8) Have A Trusted Editor Read Your Work
Of course, there’s a chance that all of these tips may be easier said than done.
After all, biases aren’t always known, and that seemingly harmless comment about a person may be misconstrued as insulting.
That’s exactly why it’s important to have a trusted set of eyes look over your piece before you hit ‘Publish’.
An honest second perspective can provide helpful feedback that you may not be able to see yourself and only stands to improve your work.
Last Thoughts On Writing About Sensitive Topics
Writing about certain sensitive topics can often be a trying task. You’ll need to practice caution, good taste, and above all else, integrity. But should you demonstrate those qualities, your work is sure to shine.
Looking for more writing tips? Be sure to check out the Article City writing blog for frequently updated tips to help you make the most of your writing!