Home / Robert Farley / Inherently Unprofessional?

Inherently Unprofessional?


Well, this is just plain stupid:

Is blogging inherently unprofessional?  Some people seem to think so, perhaps because they read my stuff, but there are plenty of bloggers far more professional than I.  As a member of the International Studies Association’s Governing Council, I received the agenda today for this year’s meeting.  I am on the council this year as I am the President of the Foreign Policy Analysis section, so this is my one year to hang out with the ISA muckety-mucks.  Anyhow, I was surprised to find a proposal that would force those who are involved in the editing of any of the various ISA journals to cease blogging.  Why?  Because it seems to be the case that blogging is inherently unprofessional.  Read the proposal below and then read my take on this proposal:

Read the rest, etc.  It’s depressing that there are still corners of the discipline which take this attitude towards public fora participation, and it’s even more depressing that these corners still have access to levers of influence.

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  • Because it seems to be the case that blogging is inherently unprofessional competitive with paid subscription products.

    That’s your problem right there.

    In my line of work I see blogs by attorneys, consultants and even physicians all of the time. I wouldn’t call them unprofessional. At least not to their faces.

    • djw

      Eh, I doubt it. ISA journal subscriptions are, overwhelmingly, going to a) libraries and b) people who are forced to buy a journal-inclusive memberships in the organization to register for the annual conference. The conference fees are their primary revenue source, and they’re driven by professional incentives that aren’t tied to creating a separate demand for the paywalled journals. The journals aren’t priced to attract choice/casual readers that blogs might replace, but the nature of academic blogging is as likely to inspire interest in an otherwise unread academic journal article than to replace it anyway.

      • LFC

        I mostly agree with the gist of djw’s remarks here, but I’d point out that, afaik and contrary to what djw says, it is not necessary to be an ISA member in order to register for and attend the ISA annual convention (just as it’s not necessary to be, for ex., an APSA member to attend the APSA convention, etc.) It’s less expensive to attend if you’re a member but membership is not required. There are also, conversely, various possible reasons for being an ISA member that have nothing to do with attending the organization’s annual convention. I’m an ISA member and I haven’t attended an ISA annual meeting in years. In fact easy access to the ISA journals is, for me at any rate, a distinct benefit of a (reasonably priced) membership.

        As for this proposed policy to bar ISA journal editors and editorial teams from participating in any blogs other than the ‘official blogs’ of their journals, whatever prompted the proposal (and one might speculate variously about this), it’s silly.

        • djw

          faik and contrary to what djw says, it is not necessary to be an ISA member in order to register for and attend the ISA annual convention (just as it’s not necessary to be, for ex., an APSA member to attend the APSA convention, etc.)

          The general practice is to make “1 year membership fees + member registration fees” the same or less expensive than “non-member registration”. I’m not going to ISA this year but I just popped over to the site and that was, indeed, true for me. At this time, for my income bracket, membership fees + member registration is $240, non-member registration is $265. (If I were making six figures, I could save a few bucks with non-member registration).

          I’m curious, what is your motivation for maintaining membership if you’re not attending? I can see having an interest in journal access, but I’m guessing the substantial majority of people who might have such an interest have institutional journal access: even those who are without a permanent position but seeking one are likely to have journal access through the University they are a graduate student or an adjunct/temporary faculty member.

          • LFC

            I’m curious, what is your motivation for maintaining membership if you’re not attending?

            I don’t have an academic job; I could access the journals via a univ. library but it’s about a 25-min. trip. The univ. in question also provides some databases to its alumni that I cd access from home but (a) I haven’t set that up and (b) I doubt that arrangement wd give me access to the current issues (but admittedly am not positive).

            Maintaining membership gives me access to the journals from a home computer. And it’s also possible I might go to an annual mtg sometime, even though I haven’t in a long time. And I suppose maintaining membership has some intangible psychic benefit; having neither an academic job nor a well-defined research agenda, maintaining membership is one thing that allows me to continue to tell myself — or, if you prefer, to continue deluding myself — that I’m a member of “the profession.” Of course no one (except me) cares whether I’m a member of the profession or not, so I guess you cd paint my decision to maintain membership as somewhat non-rational. Whatever.

            • Lee Rudolph

              Well (assuming you’re paying US income taxes) you can probably put your dues on one or another schedule (I have had outside income often enough that I had a credible case before retiring from my university job, and certainly have had a case since, for filing Schedule C, Self-Employment, and always included my American Mathematical Society dues there…but now they’re 0).

            • LFC

              P.s. A year or so ago I did attend, briefly, a mtg of one of the ISA ‘regions’ (and I guess I got some membership ‘discount’ on the attendance fee for that).

  • BigHank53

    Jesus, this is stupid. It’s not even hard to find a example of professionalism with regards to blogging. When John Scalzi was president of the SFWAA, he stated on his personal blog that he was not going to discuss SFWAA business on his personal blog, any comments referring to it would be deleted, and here’s the URL for where all that should happen. Done.

    • Here’s where you’ve made a mistake in your comparison: Scalzi is not a moron.

    • Warren Terra

      I never looked into it, because I find Scalzi interesting but the internecine conflicts of writers less so, but I believe Scalzi may have been willing to engage in online discussions of SFWA issues at the SFWA’s website, not that he was unwilling to engage in online discussion of SFWA issues.

      • BigHank53

        Exactly. I mean, how hard would it be to come up with a list of stuff that your editorial staff agrees to not discuss on their personal blog: the contents of any article/paper before publication, insider information regarding future topics or employment or what have you, and a simple statement that acknowledges that the editor now enjoys a power differential with regards to the average member of the academy, and will comport themselves in a dignified fashion?

  • JustRuss

    I recall my Journalism 101 course tackling the question “Is journalism a profession?” The answer was, yes, sort of, if you look at it just right a squint a little…and happen to be a journalist. Mind you, this was back in the early 80s, before Fox News, Breitbart, the Iraq cheerleading, etc. The notion that blogging is inherently less professional than any other medium is, let’s say, quaint.

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  • ChrisTS

    What an odd move. As the linked piece notes, there are many, many ways in which academics connect with the larger world – so why pick on blogging?

  • KatWillow

    Does he define professional? Is Fox news “professional”? CNN? NY Times? Because they all stink.

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  • Monte Davis

    Magical thinking at its finest

    • rea

      [waving wand]: “Expulsio Blogorum!”

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