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“Not Always Right but Always Clear!”: Asia Editor at Foreign Policy Advises SSI Junior Fellows in Second Bridge-the-Gap Practicum Workshop

January 13, 2016

Isaac Stone Fish, Asia Editor at Foreign Policy, joined this week’s SSI Practicum Workshop and presented perspectives and tips on bridging.

An experienced editor and an Op-Ed writer himself, he pointed out specific ways to speak to policy audiences and other stakeholders.

He was emphatic about the importance of ‘clarity’, i.e. an author should be able to communicate to a general audience: “How would you tell the story of space technology to your grandmother?” he asked. “You probably don’t want to say ‘China will marketize its space industry’ because ‘marketization’ doesn’t sound straightforward. ‘China will allow more private business in the industry’ is a simpler way of saying it”.

Among the other key points he stressed were the following:

  • Try to make only one single point in a piece.
  • The title and first paragraph should be catchy and directly on point.
  • Keep in mind the audience and provide a short explanation for academic concepts that may seem obvious to a specialist but may be lost on the general public.
  • An opinion may not be right, but as long as the argument is clear and supported by evidence, it is valuable and worth writing an Op-Ed about.

During the training workshop, Mr. Stone Fish used these general points to provide detailed one-on-one advice on the policy briefs in progress by each SSI Junior Fellow.

The Practicum Workshop was followed by a working luncheon, where the IPI Junior Fellows exchanged their ideas with Mr. Stone Fish regarding the political and economic issues in Asia.

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Mr. Stone Fish spent seven years living in China and has written extensively on Asia. After the Practicum Workshop, he also made a timely presentation entitled “Big Trouble in Greater China: Taiwan’s Election and what it means for Beijing and the United States”.

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This publication was made possible in part by a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York. The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of the author.