( - 2.3mb) - Conservation Action Trust

This presentation is not aimed at telling you
how your stories should be written; instead, it
is a summary of what has worked for me and
hopefully there may be something here that
strikes a cord for you.
©September 2014
The Challenges
Challenge 1: to get a simple message
across by
• Exposing the issues or raising awareness
• Reducing ignorance levels
• Countering misinformation
• Giving context to debates
However, we have more information
today than ever before - and easier to
access - much of this is due to the press.
Challenge 2: even when the facts are laid
out, they seem unable to persuade
humanity to translate awareness into
fundamental change as the vast majority
of us have yet to alter the way we live
What are we up against?
• An education system that does not
promote environmental concerns as a
• Editors and journalists that avoid the
significant issues – they focus on
producing a succession of trivial content
• Corporate and political vested interests
The Reader
Who are you writing for?
• Governments & decision-makers: they listen
to science, statistics and official reports
• Scientific community: they listen to
themselves & other peer-reviewed work
• General reader: wants to read about
something that relates to them – what does
this have to do with me?
When choosing your story:
• Breaking news is not always best
• Who are the vested interests?
• Focus on essence of the story (angle) up front
- and cut out the ‘background noise’
• Bring home the immediacy
• Pay attention to detail by doing your
• Don’t take any statement for granted
• Less is more – story, content and
• Be bold, very bold
• Stay on the story and look for variations as it
all unfolds
• Continue to question yourself - motivations
• Write to inspire and get people involved by
being resourceful and imaginative
• Make the connection for people
• Question the values that underpin behaviour or
attitudes – this brings in emotion
• Try and link to those that are already
converted/doing/have changed: 40% of your
city already involved in recycling vs 60% do not
• Avoid complicated scientific explanations if you
can (refer to the links)
• Make use of social media and internet
• Use powerful images if you can
• If possible, don’t target individuals:
speak about what happens and let
readers draw the links
• Don’t write for a journal that has a
weak editor
• Don’t compromise yourself
• Don’t forget to include a positive slant
or facts if they can be part of the story
• Don’t get bored, but don’t write for
yourself – this is not about you!
• Don’t submit immediately
• Don’t allow yourself to get lonely