CJR on polsci blogs and journalism

Jun 1 '10

The new issue of the _Columbia Journalism Review_ has an “article”:http://www.cjr.org/feature/embrace_the_wonk_1.php on how political science blogging is changing journalism a little. Greg Marx (the piece’s author) says things that we’re happy about, for obvious reasons.

bq. In November 2007, The Monkey Cage—the name comes from an H.?L. Mencken line about the nature of democracy—was launched. It had two central goals: to publicize political science research, and to provide commentary on current political events—a task, Sides presciently acknowledged in a mission statement, that might involve “testing and perhaps contesting propositions from journalists or commentators.”

bq. The site quickly established credibility among political scientists. And it has attracted a respectable audience as a niche blog, drawing more than 30,000 unique visitors in peak months. But perhaps The Monkey Cage’s greatest influence has been in fostering a nascent poli-sci blogosphere, and in making the field’s insights accessible to a small but influential set of journalists and other commentators who have the inclination—and the opportunity—to approach politics from a different perspective.

but also presents a good overview of why journalists should read political science – but why some also may find political science findings uncongenial. Still, Marx’s findings are cautiously optimistic.

bq. That’s not to say that traditional reporting tasks will go by the wayside, nor should they. But even in day-to-day coverage, a poli-sci perspective can have value in helping reporters make choices about which storylines, and which nuggets of information, really matter. For that to happen, political scientists must do more to make their work accessible, reaching beyond the circle of journalists who are inclined to, as Sides says, “embrace the wonk.” [Ezra] Klein, for one, believes that as academics make more of an effort to put their insights before his colleagues, they’ll find a receptive audience. His colleague Kornblut sounds ready to listen. “We’re on the front lines every day,” she says. “So help us.”