Academic Writing vs Journalistic Writing

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Academic writing mainly focuses on writing articles, theses, and publications, while journalistic writing is generally in the press and comprises online and print media.   

Academic writing and journalistic writing are more often than not the most puzzling type of non-fiction literature according to Carolyn Oei who is an editor at Mackerel, ghostwriter, and The Creative Voice founder. They may be perceived as similar if looked at on the surface. But when it comes to the nitty-gritty of academic writing and journalistic writing they differ in so many ways right down to the intentional use.  

Interpretation of Diverse Writing Styles 

On the other hand, the Merriam-Webster Dictionary states that “Academic is a member of an institution of learning”. Another description is: “A person who is academic in background, outlook or methods.” Academic writing targets a specific audience. The targeted audience is presumed to have an understanding of a particular concept. 

There are strict guidelines that are followed when writing academic papers. The academic writer has to first start by outlining the topic and then discuss how to solve the problems, and then follow it up with enlightening how that was established. 

Since audiences are different, the first thing a writer needs to take into consideration is how the audience will react to the paper and which method should they use to publish the papers. You don’t want to write a formal paper for an audience that prefers an informal writing style. This will influence how the audience will grasp and translate the write-up. 

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We will discuss below what are the most commonly used writing styles that you will come across while reading, exploring, and reviewing any type of writing that is academic writing and journalistic writing.  

Academic papers are more often than not written over some time (weeks or months, as it needs extensive research. Academic writers back their writing with supporting literature not only from their previous work but can include other people’s work.   

Since there is a lot of research that is done when writing an academic paper, the script is perceived to be more dependable. It is important to note that all the information collected should be thoroughly analyzed before being written.

The most common places you will find academic are journals and textbooks. You will find that students are more comfortable using this writing style as they practice it a lot during their college years.  

Merriam-Webster Dictionary describes journalism as: “the collection and editing of news for presentation through the media.” It can also be described as, “Writing designed for the publication of a newspaper or magazine.” Journalistic writing is intended for extensive viewers to decipher. 

Journalists do the same thing when writing an article but they have to finish it in a couple of minutes. These articles, especially when it comes to writing news pieces, should be brief, easy to understand, and should not contain technical language. Journalists should not belittle reviewers. They should never make an assumption that the person, reading specialists in the said subject.

Print Media: The main difference in this type of writing is that texts are not cited neither does the article have a bibliography as compared to academic writing. The only time quotes appear is if the journalist is going over academic scripts. It is usual in journalistic writing to quote sources that are not identified. 

Electronic newsletter: As much as the content contained in print media is the same as an electronic newsletter, more and more people are moving towards electronic newsletters as technology advances. Electronic newsletters are one can access it very quickly and get a worldwide standpoint on any narrative or debate, and come in handy when there is news breaking in any corner of the world.

Since electronic newsletters have a specific viewership, (typically a particular population and people in a particular geographical area) you should be prepared for prejudice from the usual viewers or political perspectives. 

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Highlight of Differences


  • Journalistic: Brief, straightforward indicative wording, and wording should not be lengthy. Active voice is used. 
  • Academic: Uses sentences that are lengthy, with paragraphs that are needed to expound on not so easy to understand ideas. 


  • Journalistic: When writing a news article, it should have one or two sentences. If using direct quotes, a separate clause is used. 
  • Academic: The initial clause is just the introduction of the subject. Some clauses are included underneath to discuss the subject even further.  

Reference Data

  • Journalistic: Quotation marks are used when referencing what someone has said, and it is usually in the same sentence. The sentences are brief and mostly just a sentence or two. 
  • Academic: The paper has to include a page that has appendices, final notes, or references. You can choose to either include or not include the reference data. If the quotes are long, they are put together in a text field. 


  • Journalistic: The style used depends on what the story is about. The way it is framed, the serious news is put in an overview at the beginning, and it descends according to the importance of the news. 
  • Academic: The style is divided into introduction and background, body structured by subject, recognizing opposing arguments, and the closing.


  • Journalistic: The audience is usually general, and they are presented with specifics or descriptions. Viewpoints are from diverse sides, and sentiments are usually from individuals referenced in the narrative.
  • Academic: Authors come up with a debate for one theory, and they use proof and rationality to either substantiate or challenge it. Opposing arguments are accredited at the close for further deliberations.   

In conclusion, unlike journalism, academic writing is not fixated on coming up with beautiful sentences but studies, accounts, and theses. Throughout your college education and beyond, you will encounter diverse writing styles, and you can always reach out to professional essay writers from academic writing services to help you with your advanced writing online. No writing style will be dependable 100%. They should be evaluated and scrutinized so that biases are spotted. This is the only way a reader can critically analyze the information, no matter the writing style.

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