Posted by: Alex Peery | October 9, 2017

News Engagement Day: Words Have Consequences

As part of his official visit to Puerto Rico, President Trump vowed to wipe out Puerto Rico’s massive debt. This statement was walked back by White House budget director Mick Mulvaney, who said not to take the president’s statement word for word. In the short time after Trump’s statement, one of Puerto Rico’s bonds fell to a record low 32 cents on the dollar, close to a 25 percent drop in a single day.

There are a couple of pieces of information to take away from this news story. The topic, however important, isn’t exactly thrilling. So, how do you discuss bonds and debt in a way that won’t cause the collectives eyes of the audience to glaze over?

I called my mom first to discuss, as I happen to know she has an interest in finance. I didn’t have to change much here. I led the conversation with the devalued bonds and the consequences that might cause for Puerto Rico.

I discussed this news in person with three other people, a friend, co-worker and my roommate. Without knowing their interest in the dry world of debt, I followed the Post’s direction and started discussing director Mulvaney. Saying not to take the president at his word is fascinating, especially from a White House official. Framing this story to show how words have consequences resonated more with this group.

To re-write this story, I would take the second approach and lean more on Mulvaney’s statement at the beginning. This can lead into important financial news, but could pull more readers into an important issue.

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