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“How to Make Hard Facts Easy to Read” by Roy Peter Clark


Mass media and journalism are key bodies as the dissemination of information to the public are concerned. Several bodies, including the government, depend on mass media to convey vital messages to a vast population. Therefore, mass media refers to a diverse array of technologies used to reach many audiences. Tools for mass media include television, radio, newspapers, and magazines. Information could also be spread through books, comics, or by reading pamphlets. The government depends on mass media now more than ever following the COVID-19 pandemic to give updates and directives concerning the disease. Since the government cannot reach every person in the country, mass media is the messenger and convey the required information to citizens. Therefore, this paper explores simple techniques that journalists should exploit to prepare easy-to-understand and straightforward work and presentations.

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Roy Peter Clark’s work “How to Make Hard Facts Easy to Read, is anchored on the role of mass media to the general public. Mass media’s primary role is to inform and boost readers’ or listeners’ confidence and knowledge of what is happening in their environment. Moreover, the information conveyed helps citizens make sound decision on matters that concerns their wellbeing. As such, it is the responsibility of the journalist to present their work in a manner that is simple to read, understand and comprehend. Clark, therefore, explains some strategies that help journalists produce definitive work that citizens can easily understand.

One method of making hard facts easy to read, suggested by Clark, is slowing down the pace of information, especially when complexity is involved. The point is significant, and journalists should take note and avoid confusing the audience. Long sentences and complex vocabularies are hard to understand and connect; journalists must use shorter sentences and simple words that a layperson can easily understand without getting confused. Moreover, journalists must limit the number of words that they use in disseminating the required information. Their work should be simple, precise, and to the point rather than narrating unnecessary stories. In doing so, the writers should strive to break down long sentences and paragraphs as far as possible to sink the message to deeper depths. Usually, readers get carried away with long sentences and paragraphs and could probably give up reading the article, thwarting the dissemination of information. Therefore, journalists have to take note of this point now following the current public health crisis to spread the government directives and communicate to the general public what they need to know about coronavirus.

Clark appreciates that journalists already know much about the topic they are reporting. He calls on the individual reporters to build from basic terms to prepare readers for what they expect. One way of doing this is by creating curiosity in the audience and creating a good reading enthusiasm. Starting with impressive headlines that capture readers’ attention builds the urge and the interest to read. For example, imagine introducing a new concept to the audience; how would you start your conversation? Would you not give clear facts about it? Of course, you have to provide the definition and terms that are important in understanding your concept. Therefore, journalists must note how they introduce their topics to the audience, creating an environment for appropriate reporting.

Clark also identifies the use of jargon as a barrier to communication. A few individuals who can comprehend the used vocabulary would only grasp his message whenever a journalist uses terminology. The purpose of mass media is to reach a vast population, and as such, a journalist must avoid the use of unfamiliar words or translate the jargon where necessary. For example, the current public health crisis always confuses many people as they cannot distinguish between the phrase “coronavirus” and “COVID-19.” Therefore, it is the responsibility of journalists to capture the explanation of these two terms so that their audience does not get confused along the way reading their work.

Moreover, a journalist can improve their understanding of their work by lifting the heavy cargo out of the text and putting it in a visual chart or graphic. There is a strong connection between sight and understanding. Journalists should strive in their presentation or work to include as many visual works to elaborate concepts that need to be reinforced. As Clark says, some situations and facts are challenging to capture in a text, and charts or graphs must be drawn to enhance the complete understanding. For example, in the current pandemic news and information, we have heard terms like “fattening curve” and “exponential.” Therefore, the understanding of these two terms is enhanced through the use of charts and graphs. Hence, journalists should normalize using charts and graphs where necessary in their work for thorough communication.

Another strategy that Clark calls from the journalists is their opinion concerning the matter at hand. I do believe that reporters firmly understand their work more than any other person. Good journalists or writers must include themselves as audiences receiving the information and giving their stance. For example, in reporting on COVID-19 measures to curb its spread, the writer should give their opinion and perspective concerning wearing of face mask, social distancing, and washing hands (Christie et al., 2021). Moreover, the reporter also expected to strengthen the adverse effects of the viruses and tell why they think the public should adhere to the government directives in combating the disease. I agree with Clark because writers’ opinion is necessary to break down any complexity contained in their work. Therefore, a journalist must make it normal to share their knowledge and opinion concerning their work.

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In conclusion, mass media plays a significant role in disseminating vital and valuable information to the general public. It is also true that the government and other organizations depend on the power of the media to reach a vast population. Therefore, mass media is a critical tool that must be exploited correctly to enhance the well-being of people. For that reason, there is no room for misunderstanding or misinformation as mass media is concerned. This essay has summarized some of the significant steps that help journalists and writers produce good works and presentations that are easy to understand and, if well practiced, enhance communication. Some of the strategies presented include slowing the pace of dissemination of the information, introducing the topic to capture readers’ or audience’s attention, and using charts and graphics where necessary. A journalist must also give out their stance basing their arguments on their knowledge concerning the matter at hand. Lastly, the use of jargon and other unfamiliar terms should be avoided or explained whenever used to enhance understanding by all audiences. Clark encourages journalists and writers to use short and straightforward sentences with many breaks because they are easy to read, understand, and comprehend.


Christie, A., Brooks, J. T., Hicks, L. A., Sauber-Schatz, E. K., Yoder, J. S., Honein, M. A.,… & Team, R. (2021). Guidance for implementing COVID-19 prevention strategies in the context of varying community transmission levels and vaccination coverage. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 70(30), 1044.

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