All posts for “politics”


Today we've published a new video that explains Net Neutrality.  Note: This video release is special. For the first time in about four years, we're publishing a version of a new video on our website and YouTube so that it can be shared easily. Why? Because it's about a complex and important subject that could impact all US internet users. This subject deserves to be understood by everyone, so we want to make that easy by making it more sharable.  Watch the video now on YouTube or Common Craft... Continue Reading

The Perils of Explaining Politics

Posted by: leelefever on January 16, 2014- 9:56am

Topic: video

Categories: buzzfeed, explainer, pizza, politics


In the US, it's painfully obvious that political debates have become more distinctly partisan in recent years. Nearly every event or message can be seen as favoring one side over the other. This represents a real challenge for journalists and there is a lot of debate about the role of balance in the news.  It's no different for explainers. If we want to increase understanding for everyone, we must present information in a form that avoids political persuasion. This means taking partisanship out... Continue Reading

Overcoming The Illusion of Understanding

Posted by: leelefever on June 17, 2013- 10:05am

Topic: Art of Explanation

Categories: article, Explanation, politics, psychology, understanding


I’m sure you know a friend or relative who has strongly-held opinions about a subject and is convinced that their position is right. But when asked about specifics, it becomes clear that they lack a basic understanding of the working parts that back-up that position.   A recent article by Tania Lombrozo, PhD., a cognitive scientist at UC Berkeley, highlights what causes these extreme positions and what can be done to moderate them. Lombrozo’s article is based on a recent paper by psychologist... Continue Reading

Interview with Patrick Sharma, Newsbound's Explainer-in-Chief

Posted by: leelefever on October 24, 2012- 12:54pm

Topic: Explainer Profile

Categories: Explanation, journalism, news, politics


A while back I noticed that an organization called Newsbound posted a job opening for an "Explainer-in-Chief", a title I love to see. Curious, I followed Newsbound and eventually met Patrick Sharma, the person who now fills that role. He's been kind enough to answer a few questions and share a remarkable format the company is using to package explanations.  1. Tell me about Newsbound and your role there. What's the company's mission and story?    Newsbound is a San Francisco-based digital media... Continue Reading

Video: Explaining The US Election Process

Posted by: leelefever on October 10, 2012- 12:29pm

Topic: Explanation

Categories: election, Explanation, politics, video


This time of year, politics is everywhere, and so is confusion. Electing the US president is a complex subject with lots of moving parts.   That’s why we chose to explain it with a simple, non-biased video that uses visuals to make it understandable.  It’s one of my favorite videos in our library and I hope it will be helpful to you and people you know. Please feel free to share it. Looking for more videos like this?  Check out our library of video explanations. Or build your own explanation... Continue Reading

Bill Clinton Shows Why Explanation is an Art

Posted by: leelefever on September 9, 2012- 1:21pm

Topic: Art of Explanation

Categories: empathy, Explanation, packaging, politics, Speaking


Late last week I got a text message from my politically-conservative brother in North Carolina that said “Has there ever been a better political speaker than Bill Clinton?” Indeed, wherever you stand on the political spectrum, it’s difficult to deny the effectiveness of Bill Clinton as a speaker.  E. J. Dionne published an opinion in the Washington Post where he said:  Bill Clinton is typically described as the empathetic, feel-your-pain guy. But his greatest political skill may be as a... Continue Reading

Explanations Lower the Cost of Figuring Something Out

Posted by: leelefever on November 18, 2011- 11:53am

Topic: Explanation

Categories: politics, technology


  Recently Jay Rosen published a fascinating article on his PressThink blog that focuses on politics and how the parties have learned to exploit an “electoral blind spot”.  As Rosen puts it: The blind spot is the point at which voters stop paying attention because the costs of figuring out what’s really going on are too high.  It’s a fascinating article, and I really love this idea of “costs of figuring something out”. The article is about politics and the press, but I think the idea applies... Continue Reading

The White House Goes Whiteboard

Posted by: leelefever on September 29, 2010- 5:00pm

Topic: Explanation

Categories: Explanation, government, politics, whiteboard


A while back I was a part of a panel with Dan Roam, author of The Back of the Napkin and one of his big points during the session was the use of visuals in politics.  This was in the middle of the healthcare debate and he wondered why no one, Obama, Republicans, members of congress, etc. were using visuals to make their cases. I agreed whole-heartedly. Glenn Beck seems to make it work, why not put visuals and whiteboards to work for serious policy discussions? Today I saw that the White House... Continue Reading

Healthcare Reform Explained by Dan Roam

Posted by: leelefever on August 16, 2009- 5:00pm

Topic: Explanation

Categories: health, politics, society


We often get requests to make a video about healthcare reform. Unfortunately, it's a subject that's very fluid - by the time finished a video, it may be out of date. Thankfully, our friend Dan Roam (who wrote the book Back of the Napkin) has stepped up to the challenge and created a simple way to explain healthcare/insurance reform. Check it out: Healthcare Napkins View more documents from Dan Roam.

Study: Americans Overwhelmingly Demand Simple Communications

Posted by: leelefever on January 13, 2009- 4:00pm


Categories: business, Explanation, news, plainenglish, politics


Siegel+Gale recently completed a year long study of 1,214 American homeowners and investors that shows huge demand for simple, plain English communications.  A few interesting quotes: Fully 84% of all consumers say they are more likely to trust a company that uses jargon-free, plain English in communications. And 79% say they think it is “very important??? that President Obama “mandate that clarity, transparency, and plain English be a requirement of every new law, regulation and policy... Continue Reading