Tutor profile: Ali S.
A friend of yours is accustomed to only writing informative essays, but he has been asked to write a persuasive essay. What advice would you give him to adapt his style to persuasive writing?
The biggest challenge while writing persuasively is the introduction of a new perspective: an audience. Of course, writers are always selective with how the information is delivered, but persuasive writing adds an emotional element to your work due to the potential opposition of your finished product. To start, it's best to begin researching what other information about your topic has been distributed and how it has been received previously, this will allow you to establish credibility and allow you to decide on what strategies to use. For example, if you are writing to convince local representatives to improve the recycling system in town, how have the representatives voted in the past for other green initiatives? If you have discovered that your representatives vote consistently against recycling reform, you may have to spend more time writing about the potential benefits of recycling. Perhaps you later discover the reason for their objection is due to limited funds, your strategy should then also include a resolution to the obstacles they have faced in the past, and alternative methods of funding the recycling program. Research and reference another city that faced the same obstacle and how they successfully worked through it and the benefits they reap as a result. Lastly, a crucial step of successful persuasive writing is to speak to the audience's opposition and limitations with a sense of respect and understanding. Stray from an arrogant tone that would imply that proposed changes would be easy and avoid at all costs any personal attacks, especially if they are unrelated to the topic at hand.
Imagine you are reading a book for the very first time without a cover - you have not been provided any information regarding its author, a plot summary or even its title. What are some techniques the writer uses that you can identify elements of the book, to determine its setting?
To begin, I would first focus on the writing style of the author. Is this a book written in prose or does it have a poetic structure? When the words are read aloud, is there a particular rhythm or pattern? If the book is written in prose I can assume, for example, that the book is not written by Shakespeare. Next, I would identify the point of view, am I reading from one person's perspective or am I reading a narrator's the third-person perspective? Is the narrator limited in his perspective and can only share events as they play out in its current setting, or is the narrator capable of changing to a different part of the plot to share more about what he knows. Once I understand how the plot will be delivered, I can begin to look closer at what the narrator shares from his or her perspective. For example, if the first few pages refer to Andrew Jackson or the name of the state in the southern part of the United States, I could quickly determine that the story takes place in the south, perhaps during or after the Civil War. But if the narration refers to an event that took place, how can I then determine when between the 1800s and now that the story is determined? If the narrator says, begins to share her relationships with others and her emotional connection to them, we can determine that the person she refers to the character named Calpurnia is a mother-figure who has no relationship by blood to the narrator. I can infer that the narrator's father's profession as an attorney and his children referring to him by his first-name may be a clue to belonging to a family of financial stability and that perhaps Calpurnia's role as both a cook and mother-figure may be a result of common post-slavery agreements in southern households. Because the narrator begins to describe a widespread economic struggle among characters in her town, we could then proceed with the assumption that we are reading from a young caucasian girl's perspective in pre-civil rights era in the South during the Great Depression.
In the United States, journalists are considered to be the gate-keeper of news. As professional and experienced writers, they are trained to verify sources and claims before the information reaches the public. How has the role of "gate-keeper" in journalism changed since social media?
Prior to social media, the task of catching up on the news was completed when reaching the end of the last page of a newspaper. Its contents were gathered, examined, fact-checked, drafted and published in one day's time, and the cycle repeats itself the next day. Traditional journalism had a boundary of time, a very clear-cut end. However, social media has transformed the public's expectations of receiving content, and in order for a news organization to be successful, it must accommodate the structure of those expectations, creating a great deal of pressure for journalists. The toxic combination of demand for content by the public and the goal of obtaining advertising revenue by news organizations must be considered when trying to protect the gate-keeper role. Traditional journalists have now found themselves facing much more competition from not only other journalists but from citizens with access to similar tools but perhaps not the same training and experience. The decision-making power of how information reaches the public has shifted, any person with access to the web is now capable of making those decisions that used to be reserved for only a few. In order to navigate these complex obstacles, seasoned journalists should be careful not to fold to the pressures of being the first to break a story; to instead focus on the quality of their work to maintain a culture of trust and integrity in their product.
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