You may have heard about the controversial decision by Australia to expand the amount of sediment to be dumped into the Great Barrier Reef marine port. The debate surrounds the beautiful natural wonder of the reef and the concern that sediment from dredging could destroy the ecosystem. The North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation has stated that wildlife will not be damaged and it would be more harmful to dump on land. The UN body Unesco is now reviewing the decision to allow the spoil to be dumped.
When controversial issues arise, the professional writers are often handed the opportunity to work on articles that are not in line with their own personal beliefs. Keeping yourself impartial and holding your ethical lines are important steps for maintaining a career you can be proud of.
Dumping the Drudge
Those in Abbot Point realize that to expand their coal production they will also have to move the spoil. Big business does not come without excess waste that must be shed—writing is no different. Not every client is right and not every project is worth writing. Knowing where you stand is part of being a human being. The upside is: you only have to turn down a business opportunity or two and your drudge won’t controversially affect a wonder of nature. You will have to move aside the sludge to find the valuable content assignments.
Biting the Bullet
Whether you are in favor of dumping more dredge into the ocean or fighting corporate coal expansion, someone will be disappointed by the end of the day. There will be times when, as a professional writer, you will have to just buck up and take on an assignment you don’t particularly like in order to pay the bills. The important part is holding ethical standards while keeping personal opinions in check.
The Ethical Line
One side of this debate believes that they will not harm the environment irreversibly and that the coal is necessary for increased business and resources. The other side believes the reef could be in danger and those in power should force the corporation to find another alternative or cease their expansion.
When there are two contrasting views held by the public, both cannot be right and it’s natural to lean to one side or the other when you are familiar with the content. Freelance writers are often asked to produce articles for one side or the other—there is no requirement that you have to agree. You do, however, have to produce content that is right for the client. Writing on a subject you are not wholeheartedly in agreement with might result in mediocre work or an unfair bias in your writing.
Knowing the Case
Spokeswoman Louise Matthiesson stated, “Scientists are clear that the potential impacts of dumping the dredge spoil so close to fringing reefs and the WWII Catalina plane wreck are significant.”
When facing any controversial writing assignment the first point of business should be carefully researching both sides. Notice that in many cases there are contradicting points—often professionals on both sides will claim directly opposite points of view.
Content creation for your client will hinge on your researching skills. Don’t get bogged down in the personal opinion pages—look for the professional arguments that will have weight and know how to effectively argue for and against your point. By knowing both sides of the argument you will be able to produce the information that won’t seem naive or uninformed.
Alethea M is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.