Academic Writing compared to News Writing - Why the difference?


"Your instructor does not expect you to be an expert. You are supposed to be learning. You write from the position of a learner...The news is supposed to be a source of verified facts, not just a vehicle for passing along what people are saying" (Jerz).

After reading the comparison chart on English writing vs. Newswriting, I found the above quote to be very informative and informational. When we are writing an academic English paper, then we look for quotes that support or deny the topic and compose a very well written paper on a topic that we may or may not be that familiar with.

On the other hand, when we are writing newspaper articles, then we must know the facts and not just learn as we go. Could you imagine a reporter just learning the facts as they spoke? It would be similar to the Onion presentation on

Sometimes when we are writing English papers, we will, unconsciously, put some fluff into the paper (showing instead of telling) instead of just writing what we want to write. When we are writing for the news, then we need to be as clear as we can possibly be. This seems very important because it shows the reader that you know the facts and are giving it to them in writing as quickly as you can.

So, what if a news writer added fluff into some of their articles? Would it be okay or would it destroy the meaning of news and paper?

Click here for the web page devoted to English Essay vs. News Story.


Derek, did you ever see a live news broadcast? Check out this youtube video. My roommate showed it to me and it's hilarious! There are actually a TON of hilarious videos of reporters on youtube. Some freak out, some walk into poles. Take your pick.

Fluff would inevitably destroy the news because who wants to pick up and read about something that isn't interesting. If I write about a house burning down and then include information about the next door neighbor's affinity for felines, I'm going to lose my audience. Unless there is something terribly interesting about this lady, I'm just going to chase my reader away.

It seems to me that newspapers hardly ever have fluff, but as evidenced by the Youtube video posted above, TV news is often chock full of fluff (chocolate-covered bacon, anyone?) The newscast I watched and blogged about definitely seemed to cover the more serious stories in a rather superficial way while odd unhealthy foods were a source of intense fascination. It would be terrible if newspapers eventually sunk to this level of light fluffiness. However, I do think even newspapers have fluff, especially on bad news days. (Remember the article in the Tribune Review about text messages rotting teens' brains? Not exactly a groundbreaking, innovative piece.) Somedays there just isn't much newsworthy that happens, but you still have so much space to fill. Just like those academic papers where you feel yourself stretching and bending over backwards to fulfill the page limit, everybody ends up having to strain to fulfill certain criteria for amount of content.

Adding fluff to newspapers probably wouldn't go over well. When people read the news, they might just want the writer to get to the point so they can be informed. While English essays may be informative, there is room for fluff (especially if the paper has to be 10 pages and you have only written 8).

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This page contains a single entry by Derek Tickle published on August 31, 2009 6:20 PM.

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