You way have noticed that I have not reported about a journal article on this blog for months. In fact, it has been a while since I last opened a journal. Should I take this as a sign that journals have become irrelevant?
It is true that journals are considerably lagging behind the research frontier, at least in Economics. Our working paper culture makes that you rely on such pre-publications to keep up with what is going on. In other fields, conferences is the place to go to stay current. Journals are then just a confirmation about your evaluation of your readings. In this regard, I am eager to see how the papers I discuss here will be published (see the IDEAS reading list for this blog).
But back to the topic. Why do we keep insisting on sending our papers to journals and suffer through the tyranny of referees who cannot appreciate our work or just have personal agendas? We can get the recognition we need from citations, especially now that RePEc does citation analysis from working papers, much faster than ISI could ever do. Unfortunately, tenure and promotion committees want to see peer-reviewed publications, because of inertia.
And what if blogs like mine could take the role of peer review? They establish a reputation, and then (positive) mentions can become an asset. But for this to happen, we need more blogs like that, and especially more specialized ones that can better dissect papers. And we need more readership so that research blogs actually get a chance at become reputable. From what I see from my readership and the amounts of comments, we still have a way to go, although some others listed at Econ Academics (link corrected) appear more successful.