Persuasion in print

John Rentoul appreciates advice on clear writing and spiking Bono’s copy

The World Today
3 minute READ

John Rentoul

Chief Political Commentator, The Independent,, and writes our Jargonbuster column

Writing to Persuade: How to Bring People Over to Your Side

Trish Hall, Liveright, £18.99

This is a subject close to my heart. One of the few articles I have ever written that I know has changed people’s minds was, oddly enough, on the very subject of how to change people’s minds.

I wrote about why I thought it was a mistake to call Donald Trump a liar. I said that calling anyone a liar is bad journalism because you cannot see into someone’s heart, but also that it is a bad way to persuade people who do not already agree with you.

Most readers who responded did not agree with me to start with and stayed that way. But I was proud that a couple of them let me know that they had changed their mind as a result of reading that article.

So I wanted to see what Trish Hall, former editor of the comment page of The New York Times, had to say was the secret of this mysterious process.

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