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Persuasive Journalism: Definition & Techniques

Instructor: Jennifer Carnevale

Jennifer has a dual master's in English literature/teaching and is currently a high school English teacher. She teaches college classes on the side.

Do you read or watch the news? Did you know there are times when it is a journalist's job to get you to believe in what they are reporting about? In this lesson, we will learn about the art of persuasive journalism and the techniques behind the reported material.

Please, Mom?

What do you do when you want something from your parents? Do you ask over and over again? Do you follow them around the house begging? Or do you persuade them to get what you want? This lesson will help you understand the topic of persuasion in regards to persuasive journalism. However, you probably know more than you think.

The Art of Persuasion

Persuasion is the act of convincing someone to share your views or values. You probably persuade many people on a daily basis without even knowing it. Maybe it is by persuading the teacher to not give homework over the long weekend or persuading your friend to switch snacks at lunch. In any case, think about these moments and realize most of your day may consist of this behavior.

In this lesson, we won't just learn about persuasion, but instead, learn about persuasive journalism. When we think of the word persuasion, synonyms that come to mind are urge, encourage, coax, tempt, sway and influence to name a few. We know journalism has to do with reporting the news. So, if we put these words together, it seems persuasive journalism is the way in which journalists convince or influence their audiences about a specific topic.

Let's take a look at the format journalists use when constructing their work.

Formatting and Argumentation

When we persuade, we are making claims about people, ideas or experiences and then providing evidence to support those claims.

For example, a claim could look like this: Mom, I want to go to a movie with Justin.

Mom may say no, but you could reinforce your claim with evidence to support your overall argument. Maybe you tell mom you finished your homework for the weekend, Justin's mom is picking you up, and you have $10 from completing your chores last weekend to pay for it. All of this evidence may help persuade mom into letting you go.

Next comes the reasoning for those claims. The reasoning can be done in several persuasive ways. By providing the evidence, and maybe offering to do something else for mom, you can show her all the reasons why you should go to the movies. In this case, you could reason with Mom by telling her she won't have to provide anything, such as money and a ride, and she will get a night off from being a mom.

Connection

How does asking mom for a movie trip help you understand persuasive journalism? The same format is presented in the news. Journalists make claims regarding politics, events, and people, and provide evidence and reasoning as to why you should believe what they are reporting.

For example, a journalist might discuss violence in cartoons. They may make claims about certain cartoons that show cartoon characters pounding each other on the head and provide evidence based on those claims about kids who imitate the characters. Their intention may be to persuade you that there is too much violence in cartoons, and these particular shows should not be allowed on TV.

Let's take a look at some of the techniques journalists use when they write to get a better understanding of the art.

Persuasive Devices and Techniques

Now that we have an understanding about persuasive writing format, let's take a look at some devices journalists use in their writing.

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