Opinion Writing: Strategies for Persuasive Public Communication

Monday, February 15, 2016: 9:00 AM-10:30 AM
Hoover (Marriott Wardman Park)
When communicating with the public about science, sometimes it’s not enough to simply spell out the facts. Writing with voice, argument, personality, and opinion is a skill that can be learned. Evidence from social media and science communication studies shows that people are eager to share stories containing strong opinions, giving such stories wider reach than they had in the past and increasing their influence on public opinion. Many people are using tools of persuasion to advance non-scientific arguments. Scientists too can use similar tools to argue for science and for evidence-based policies. This session features scientists and journalists from the National Association of Science Writers presenting their techniques for writing effective, popular, well-reasoned, and persuasive opinion pieces. Evidence from social science research showing that opinion writing is an effective tool for science communication is discussed. Expert science journalists present their experiences writing science opinion articles, and the techniques they utilize to create persuasive yet accurate work. Attendees learn what makes an effective opinion piece and what pitfalls to avoid, coming away prepared to better use their scientific expertise to communicate with the public on important issues such as climate change, genetically-modified organisms, and more.
Laura Helmuth, National Geographic Society
Bethanny Brookshire, Science News
Michelle Francl, Bryn Mawr College
Combatting Chemophobia and Pseudoscience
Bethanny Brookshire, Science News
Using Data to Pump Your Powers of Persuasion
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