“We have no editorial ‘line’ except a commitment to communicating social science research and commentary in ways that enhance public debate and understanding.” (About, LSE EUROPP blog)
Yesterday, a blog post of mine was published on the LSE EUROPP blog. I had proposed the title “On the State of EU Blogging” – a bit bold but short enough to fit well on Twitter and to catch some attention.
In the end it was published with the title “Blogs on European affairs are written by insiders. There is a need for these EU specialists and academics to bring their debates to the digital public.” For anyone reading blogs, this kind of two-sentence title looks quite bizarre, but why not.
Beyond the edited title, my blog post had received a short introduction, like the title written by the editors of the EUROPP blog. Having seen previous blog posts on the EUROPP blog I expected this and it is fine for me as the way it is written indicates that it was not formulated by me. Then, the short bio at the end of the post was changed compared to the text I had proposed. That is fine in principle, but maybe I had my reasons to write it the way I did.
Most importantly however, some parts of the text had been edited. While some of the edits “only” concerned formulations or changes in style, one edit stroke me the most. In the draft that I had submitted, I had written:
“Making any remarks on the state of EU blogging is thus quite subjective – which is why I am writing this on a blog, not in a refereed journal, I suppose.“
In the version published on the EUROPP-Blog, the half-sentence in bold had been erased. Now I can only speculate about the reason for this particular edit – probably, making ironical statements that contrast the fine world of refereed journals with the wilderness of the digital sphere is dangerous and could bring down academia.
In fact, I had made this little statement to underline that, as an academic, it would be quite difficult to even discuss an unstudied topic like “The EU blogosphere” on an academic conference or in a refereed journal given the well-established rules of the academic game. A blog however is indeed a place where one can start developing a more personal perspective on a subject that one may know beyond everyday knowledge. Starting with a general statement, making some initial research to prove your point and publish something on the subject and discuss them with a specialist or generalist public even before these thoughts will have reached a state where they could stand the critical eyes of journal referees is the great possibility of academic blogging.
Editing out my reference to these possibilities shows a misunderstanding of the way academic blogging should function. For me, a blog post also needs space for provocation, little inconsistencies, mistakes. This is what sparks debate, this is what makes blogging interesting and this is what differentiates it from other types of publishing. Realising that your blog post is read by editors who may even make changes to your core text or your title before publishing what you wrote is quite confusing for someone who is used to blog for a while.
I would hope the editors of the EUROPP blog would have confidence in the ability of their contributors to write their own texts and to publish them unedited as far as they do not contain legally problematic content. This would enrich the world of academic writing, instead of polishing it back from where it has come.