As I heard it explained to me, it’s not merely that taking time to help inform a non-specialist audience about political science findings isn’t specifically rewarded, it’s positively punished. And not simply in the sense that doing less research and more publicizing is punished; I was told that holding research output constant, getting more publicity for your output would be harmful to a junior scholar’s career because it would feed an assumption of non-seriousness.... That’s pretty nuts.I agree. From my perspective, academics who blog -- who take the time to explain academic research in a way that non-academics can understand and care about -- are providing a real service, both to academia and to the intellectual world at large. But, as Nanny McPhee says, "It's rather sad, really, but there it is." Or, as Hyman Roth says, "This is the business we've chosen."
Still, it's difficult to say whether an academic would be punished today for blogging. We act under the belief that such activities killed Dan Drezner's tenure bid in 2005, but of course we can't get definitive proof of that, and we don't know whether norms have changed in the past few years such that this behavior is no longer stigmatized. No senior faculty member ever goes on record saying that blogging in itself is a strike against a promotion or hiring candidate. I don't think it hurt my tenure bid, but I don't think it helped, either. I suppose the only way we can know is by testing it further. As more academic bloggers come up for tenure, perhaps we'll get some real data, hopefully all on the side of refuting the hypothesis.