Portfolio 3, Part B: Writing an Argument for a Public Audience
Overview: In P3B, you will revise your argument from P3A to create a letter to the editor for a major publication. To do so, you will need to choose an audience. You will also choose a publication that you feel will most effectively bring your argument to your audience. For example, if you are arguing about whether or not Congress should approve new tax credits for owners of hybrid vehicles, you will want to choose a publication context that the parties interested in this debate will be likely to encounter - perhaps an environmental magazine like Sierra or a national newspaper like The Washington Post.
Purpose: To revise your argument for a public audience. Your specific purpose for writing will vary depending on your chosen audience.
Audience: You will determine the audience. Begin by asking: Who needs to hear my argument? Who do I want to make this argument for? Perhaps you'd like to target a specific group of people such as parents, teachers, scientists, college students, Republicans, Democrats, etc…. If this is the case, you'll want to choose a publication that members of that group are likely to encounter. If you're targeting a wider, more general audience, do you want to write to a local audience (voters in Ft. Collins who read The Coloradoan)? Or, do you want to write to a larger general audience (those who read the New York Times)?
Publication Context: Once you choose your publication, you will need to analyze the publication in terms of its editorial requirements and conventions so that you can revise your previous argument to accommodate them. What type of language and tone are appropriate? What types of evidence are commonly used? Are there any specific length requirements or limitations? You will need to shape your own essay to fit these expectations.
- Be clear in your purpose. Readers should know exactly what your argument is trying to accomplish.
- Understand your audience (their beliefs, values, background, assumptions) and write according to their needs and interests. Consider how you may appeal to their emotions and logic and where to connect with their values and beliefs. Determine how you can make your own character seem credible and trustworthy.
- Present your claim in such a way that is appropriate for your publication.
- Organize your claim, reasons and evidence according to the conventions of your publication context. Use clear transitions to guide readers between your ideas.
- Write an introduction and conclusion that are interesting, engaging, and typical for the publication you're writing for. Avoid the standard academic introduction and conclusion ("In conclusion, I believe that we should support capital punishment for these the reasons I have stated in this paper…").
- Address your readers' opposing views if doing so is appropriate for the publication you've chosen.
- Avoid poor reasoning and fallacies of argumentation.
- Document your sources in whatever manner is typical and required for this type of publication.
- Avoid distracting spelling and grammar errors to improve credibility.
- Format your argument so that it looks like a letter to the editor from your chosen publication. Use font and spacing accordingly.
- Include a well-edited cover page for your argument in which you:
- Explain your purpose for writing this argument.
- Explain who your target audience is.
- Discuss your publication context. What is it (e.g. The Coloradoan, The National Review, The Washington Post, etc…)? How would you characterize the writing in this context? What do letters to the editor published here typically look like? Sound like? What type of language and tone are used in the letters that appear in this publication? What sense do you get of the criteria the editors of your publication use to select the letters that they print?
- Describe some of the key revisions you've made to re-shape your P3A argument for your chosen audience and context. Why, given your purpose, audience and context for this assignment, are the choices you've made in reshaping your argument appropriate and important?
- Submit your letter as specified in class.
Paper Length: While there is no set length for your argument, it should be similar to the length of the articles in the publication you analyzed.
Due Date: See TR or MWF Syllabus for due dates
Worth: 10% of your final grade