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Contributor Archives: Barry Siegel

Why We Should Care: Writing Well about Endangered Kids

Many—surprisingly, perhaps most—of the stories we read for this site are about, or involve, children we worry about: They’re alone, ill, miseducated, lost in the system, abandoned or abused. Mark Kramer calls such pieces “endangered children” stories. They’re attractive to newspaper writers because children are of universal concern to the community. Portray a child in a fix and everyone cares. But precisely because the dilemmas of children are emotionally fraught, writers run the risk of veering into mawkishness—a tack that’s too easy and that often evades the social complications at the heart of any story. We asked Barry Siegel, director of the literary journalism program at UC Irvine, to offer some advice.