Academic, hackademic

Posted on February 26th, 2014 by Bernie Russell

One of the key challenges facing journalism students is switching voices and styles for different assignments. At any one time, they can be working on essays, critiques, news stories, features, radio and TV scripts and blog posts. Each of these has a different audience, and each make its own particular demands on the writer.

It’s a challenge for the tutors as well. I’m assuming most teams are like ours at the LSJ – a blend of scholars and practitioners and it’s easy to go tribal: hacks v acs, demotic vs dull, etc.

That doesn’t help us much, though. And it certainly doesn’t help the students. So I thought I might look at how the debate is playing out on both sides of the divide, and to try to assemble some resources we can use to make sure our students are comfortable in both camps.

This article is a useful starting point. It’s a piece from the New Yorker, which looks at the public status of academics, and argues that acs and hacks write how they write because of the audience they’re trying to reach. As the author puts it:

If journalists sound friendly*, that’s because they’re writing for strangers. With academics, it’s the reverse.

Have a read. See (and say) what you think?

*Journalists sound ‘friendly’?

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