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Friday, May 11, 2018

On mixing academic and journalistic writing (Updated)

Olga Khazan at The Atlantic summarizes a new article by Austin Frakt, Aaron Carroll, Harold Pollack, and Keith Humphreys--all academics who write for newspapers, blogs, and other popular outlets--discussing the rewards and challenges of writing for popular journalistic outlets and audiences as an academic.

From my limited experience writing regularly here and at SCOTUSBlog and dabbling with op-eds in newspapers or magazines, it seems to me there are two issues--one is style/tone, the other is level of detail and support. The latter obviously decreases in these formats--writing 500-1000 words on a germinating idea that will get 20,000 in a full article means less detail and support. A blog post or opinion recap is not meant to be a full scholarly analysis. I find style/tone to be trickier--I assume readers here are law-trained, which I sometimes forget when writing for a different audience that is law-interested but not law-trained.

Update: I also agree with Frakt, et al. about speed, which is unnecessary for academic projects. I am a slow reader and processor, so the process of quickly turning around a report on an argument or opinion is painful for me. I also tend to rush when pressed for time and make bad grammatical mistakes or fail to provide the right links (as happened in this post--the link to Khazan's piece is fixed).

Posted by Howard Wasserman on May 11, 2018 at 02:20 PM in Blogging, Howard Wasserman, Teaching Law | Permalink


Your link to the Atlantic doesn't work.

Posted by: Asher Steinberg | May 11, 2018 5:19:31 PM

Interesting post, Howard. One of the things I like best about blogging, as compared to op-ed writing, is that you can pretty much speak in a merged academic/popular voice that I think also works pretty well with law review articles, too. That is, you can add all the citations and links to cases you want in your blog post, just like you would in an article, and yet you can also write in an informal way that also makes for a pretty readable article. It lessens the gap between the two kinds of writing, I think, although of course that may not be to everyone's taste.

Posted by: Orin Kerr | May 12, 2018 5:28:08 AM

Great point—I agree. Blog posts Re more like mini articles, which is easier stylistically. I read two of those authors at a blog, where they write on a somewhat more academic level.

Posted by: Howard Wasserman | May 12, 2018 6:47:59 AM

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