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Why does HNN feature blogs? Aren't they just vehicles for people who want to sound off?

The challenge of writing a blog is particularly great given the pressure to keep it up to date. But doing a blog is not fundamentally different from writing articles that appear in other places on HNN. In both cases the pressure to publish something in a timely manner necessitates foregoing the slow and steady approach common in peer-reviewed journals. By the peer review standard, none of the articles we publish pass muster as none of them are peer-reviewed in advance; the peer reviewing comes after they have already reached the public. But if that standard is the only standard, then historians must retreat from the journalistic fields and leave the harvesting of interesting views and opinions to others.

This does not sound like a reasonable approach to us. In the fast-paced world in which we now live, public attention is focused on issues for ever briefer periods of time. If scholars want their analyses to be taken into consideration--and why shouldn't they?--they have to jump into the debate early and with forcefulness.

HNN is committed to the scholarly discussion of issues in a timely manner. A person can achieve a scholarly analysis even if they write fast. Their very familiarity with the issues at hand gives them an advantage over others in arriving at a considered opinion in a quick period of time.

It may be argued that blogs fall into a separate category because they need to be updated constantly. But what is a blog? It is nothing more than an old fashioned common-place journal in a new setting. It gives the reader the chance to look over the shoulder of a historian who's reacting daily to events.

Unique though a blog may be, the speediness required by a blog is not unique. When a reporter rings up Arthur Schlesinger Jr. for a comment on an issue in the news Schlesinger has even less time than a blogger to get his thoughts in order before committing to a certain analysis or viewpoint. Yet no one argues that the public is not benefited by Schlesinger's participation. He brings to bear in an instant a lifetime's worth of reading and reflection from which everybody can benefit, whether they agree with him or not.