It’s all too easy to find yourself waffling on when talking to a reporter, instead of getting to the heart of the matter. Most journalists are under lots of time pressure, and if they’re not sure what you’re trying to say, they will quickly make their excuses and move on to someone else. Academics tend to examine the evidence, test it against a hypothesis, then reach a conclusion – this may sound pretty logical but it’s not the approach to follow. Journalists tend to put their stories together precisely the opposite way around – headline first, with an opening paragraph summarising the key findings – followed by evidence and detail only so far as space allows. Too often the reporter calls up an ‘expert’ to find out what something means, particularly on technical topics, then has to listen for what seems like several minutes before they get to the nub of the issue – by that time the journalist may have lost interest. (adapted from the book The M-Factor by Tom Maddocks)
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