Non-Academic works are written for the mass public. They are published quickly and can be written by anyone. Their language is informal, casual, and may even contain slang. It can focus on any general topic. Its purpose is to inform, entertain or persuade the readers.
It is important to be the voice of cultural discourse. You have to reach outside of your academic circle and persuade a wider audience in order to make a difference in your field. In order to be relevant, it's important to stay abreast of current events. Think like a journalist.
When you publish to a wider audience, there is risk involved. You could make yourself a target, not only for other authors in your field, but public criticism as well. There could be other articles written in response to yours that could be potentially harmful for your career.