A lesson from Maggie

A few weeks ago, we talked about voice in reporting class and its importance in journalistic narratives. That week happened to be the week that the former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher died. I couldn’t help, in that moment to correlate our discussion of voice with the death of perhaps one of the most recognizable and, for some, most despised voices of all time.

But agree with her politics or not, the woman had voice. While Maggie Thatcher wasn’t a journalist, she achieved a tone that was incomparable to her contemporaries.

Thatcher’s voice, though, was one that was achieved over time and prompted by the challenge of her critics.

After being criticized by her male contemporaries who said “the right honorable lady doth screech too much,” Thatcher took voice lessons and deepened the sound of her voice. She  matched the deeper tone of her peers while creating an “iron” persona all her own.

While I am talking about Margaret Thatcher’s literal voice in this sense, I think her experience as a politician is one that can be related to a journalists’ developing voice in writing.

In class, we discussed the idea that our voices are constantly developing, in response to criticism from editors, readers and ourselves. As my confidence grows as a writer, I’ve noticed I’m a lot more brave and a lot more willing to take on a more distinctive voice.

It took me three drafts for my first Vox story before I could coax out the voice I wanted to employ. Now, I’m turning in drafts that are louder, more distinctive, more effective on the first try. In other words, I’ve pulled a Margaret Thatcher. Image

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