Never ask readers what they want

Why editors should know what employees want to read without having to ask.

When a writer asked New Yorker editor William Shawn how he sees his readers he said: “We’ve always had the view that our readers are people like ourselves … We don’t think of them as a separate group. We don’t think: ‘Do we have to change this because of them?’ or ‘Do we have to be less subtle or more complicated?’ … From the beginning that’s been our point of view. We’ve never changed a word because we’re thinking, ‘We understand this, but what about our readers?’ We don’t know how to think that way.”

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