Thursday, July 16, 2020


Read these two fictional news reports:

Today the governor proposed a plan to widen Highway 17 to four lanes. This will save lives, he said. The package includes other highway improvements and will be paid for by an increase in the gas tax.


The governor proposed a gas tax increase today. This is part of a package of highway improvements. One project proposed is to widen Highway 17 to four lanes. The governor claims that it will save lives.

Which statement makes you feel better about the governor (especially if you have to drive on Highway 17)? Each statement has the same basic facts but presented in a different way.

Each statement has a different "spin" on it and a skilled writer can do this almost without thinking based on his or her preferences or prejudices. Spin happens all the time in the news business. Reports might say they are reporting the facts, but how do they report them? (Never mind that some reporters don't report the facts, or the facts they don't like, but that's not what we're talking about here.)

A skillful speaker can spin with their voice, giving the right tone to each word to emphasis what they want. Politicians do this all the time.

In fiction writing you can use spin, too, in the way you describe things or events. Ramp up the tension with the right word choices and putting them in a certain order. Again, a skilled writer can do that almost without thinking.

Do you see spin in news reports? Do you watch out for spin? Let me know in the comments below.

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