Journalistic Cliches and Their Academic Cousins

My least-favorite journalistic cliche is “time will tell.”

Despite the president’s charm offensive, some pundits say that the world will end next Tuesday. Time will tell.

Read the whole list of 150 here.

As a journal editor, I could make my own list, particularly those stupid bits of wordiness that get between the reader and an actual thesis statement, in which the writer actually takes a position on the issue.

Some sample candidates:

I plan to explore the intersection between . . .

In this paper I will argue  . . .

This article compares . . .

Get out of the spotlight, academic writer, and say something about something.

3 thoughts on “Journalistic Cliches and Their Academic Cousins

  1. T.L.

    When people write poorly I think it has more to do with lack of experience than a desire to be verbose. No one ever intends to write poorly; even when the finished product appears to be a personal preference. I know what you are saying though, and that is that once scholars reach the level of professor they are supposed to know how to write—and that you are talking about your group of people. Even so, given your examples, many people obviously do not know what they are supposed to do. Also, what do you do with people who are not part of the academic enclave who have good ideas, but cannot write? They are out of the mix unless they go into something like the entertainment business (and I don’t mean that as a joke). The expressions and conclusions of the lower echelons, who live the ideas that others observe and write about, are considered twaddle because they are not participants in academia. Perhaps poor writing on the part of academics is a glitch that occurs because of their distance from their subjects. Perhaps twaddle provides more relevant information.

    I wonder if a bad idea that is exquisitely written is more believable than a good idea that is poorly written? How do people ever come to the truth of a matter? Academic truth always changes according to what is in vogue at any given time.

    1. Every profession has its “template.” I learned that teaching cops at the community college.

      One of my teachers, who had done writing workshops for appellate-court judges, said that it was hard to change their ways too.

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