What Academics Misunderstand About ‘Public Writing’ (Chronicle of Higher Education)

September 11, 2020

Public writing can be a touchy subject. From one perspective, we are living in a golden age of public intellectualism. Today’s scholars have numerous ways to reach a broad audience — from online magazines hungry for fresh takes on the topics of the day to print magazines looking for authoritative essays. Writing coaches and programs such as the OpEd Project offer training in how to pitch to general-interest publications, while grant agencies in Europe and North America increasingly require recipients to communicate with the public. To some scholars, public writing has even started to seem like yet another skill they are expected to master to stay competitive.

At the same time, academics often approach newspapers, magazines, and websites with assumptions drawn from the outlets we’re used to writing for: scholarly journals and, since the early 2000s, the blogs that flourish as a faster, more casual medium of scholarly exchange.

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