The excerpt copied below from one of #MySciBlog research interviews speaks for itself. It represents a few very common themes in my analysis (so far) of qualitative interviews with science bloggers about their practices and especially their content decisions. One of these themes is the science blog as a place for opinion, interpretation and/or personal commentary. In other words, relatively few science bloggers I've interviewed leave their personal opinions and thoughts out of their blogs. (Some do, and they tend to be either scientists who don't want their opinions to 'muddy' the science, or journalists taking a more 'straight news' approach to blogging about new research). Instead, bloggers see the blog as a 'natural' home for their own personal expertise, experiences and opinions related to science, to a greater or lesser extent. In fact, the 'strength' of blogging is often seen as providing commentary and interpretation often missing from news.
18 out of the 27 bloggers for which I've coded interview transcripts so far have mentioned one of the following content decision codes:
- Avoiding 'big', embargoed or press-released studies, in favor less popular or more obscure research papers that still deserve attention
- Avoiding stories or topics being covered (*well*) by other bloggers or journalists
- Highlighting an area of science that is generally overlooked or underrepresented in popular media
- Highlighting stories or research papers that would not otherwise be featured by the mainstream media
- Choosing content that is in some way exclusive or unique
"in my opinion, blogging is sort of ... like being the modern-day columnist. You're expected to express an opinion, in a way, I mean, not all bloggers do, but most people do, and I think that's one of the things most people consider the strength of blogging? Is the opinion and the voice? And... why do people come to your blog? Well, presumably it's because you're offering them content or opinion or viewpoints or knowledge they wouldn't be able to get elsewhere. Something that's unique to you.
So, in the beginning, I guess I just started out by covering the same kind of things that I would have covered in a traditional journalistic standpoint, but offering ... what I hoped would be entertaining commentary about it, too. You know, like here's this cool thing, um, and here's some entertaining thoughts that I'm going to share with you that I've had about it, based on my experience and training as a scientist. Things that I know because of this special training that I got, that you don't know, but that you should know, and I want to share with you because it's awesome.
I guess the other reason, the other approach to my blog that I took with that, because I have this complete freedom, to write about whatever I wanted to write about, I was going to write about subjects that I knew would NEVER get covered in the mainstream media. Because, because the organisms that I was going to write about were just too obscure, they weren't, you know, fuzzy mammals... And so, I wanted to offer people content that they would never, almost never find anywhere else."
- #MySciBlog interviewee