Anyone who reads or watches the news might feel like we are in a news assault. The news happens so fast, technology helps us disseminate and consume with speed, and media outlets are in a relatively new competition: a competition for relevancy. As “papers of record” are being attacked as “fake,” the question of how to communicate with fairness about important issues has never been more relevant.
John McPhee has had a long, storied career in writing for magazines “of record” using in-depth long-form journalism. Draft No. 4 is McPhee’s 32nd book of nonfiction. It is a series of essays on his writing process.
In today’s episode, we use McPhee’s thoughts on structure and nonfiction to discuss some of the difficulties of communicating policy and research in today’s frenetic climate of news and propaganda and anti-elitism. Policy communication should be nuanced and deep, how can we do this in an age of immediate consumption and tribalism? How do we know what we know, and how do we tell others how we know what we know?