Monday Stretch: Toning It Down

As implied in Episode 2, we can all get “tone deaf” to the attitude we’re portraying, and the point of this exercise is to explore ways in which words and phrases impact the tone. So, pretend for a moment that you are a journalist covering a scientific breakthrough. Your job, then, is to cover the story based upon limited facts and an interview.

Purpose: To recognize the tone in your own writing

Setting: Two scientists Drs. Demitri Demitri and Ima Burns claim to have discovered the secret to cars that run on air. However, they refuse to let anyone see their invention until a “later date.”

Assignment: Based on the above information and one imaginary interview with the scientists, write two versions of a news article. In the first version, try to be as objective as you possibly can, including reasons to affirm and doubt the findings. In the second version, however, choose one side or the other and slant the article in that direction on purpose.


  1. In the first version, what words and phrases helped you designate a more balanced approach?
  2. Find several news articles on the Internet. Does the writer’s tone come through to let you know her or his opinion?
  3. Based upon your second version, do you think it would be possible to hide your tone more effectively and still provide the same slant? Do some of the news articles you looked up do that?
  4. How neutral do you think any person can be? Why do you think that?

Bonus credit: Write a short story in which the narrator does not like the subject matter, main character, or situation. How does this impact the story?


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