Update 1 (7/8/2010): I’ve had some time to “chew on the gray area,”and Martin Robbins’ most excellent post on “Pepsigate” certainly helped (via David Dobbs). In short, I agree with Robbins’ argument and potential solutions. However, I’m still left wondering the following: Why wasn’t such a colossal stink about corporate-sponsored blogs previously raised by the community? Again, I admittedly lack the inside perspective because I’m not a ScienceBlogs member. Some of these sponsored blogs appear to be editorially independent, but full transparency is publicly elusive.
Update 2 (7/8/2010): ScienceBlogs has shuttered Food Frontiers and officially opened this issue up for debate, which pads the fair ounce of credit I think they deserve. Is this, however, a case of “a day late, a dollar short”? Yes, and rightfully so for those who left — especially the journalist-bloggers (i.e. David Dobbs, Maryn McKenna, Rebecca Skloot, etc.). But I’m an optimist. Perhaps management at Seed can truly learn from this experience, address the major problems that permitted the business operation to tarnish the editorial operation, and salvage their hemorrhaging community.
If you’ve been living under a science blogging rock, head over to Carl Zimmer’s summary of the ScienceBlogs and PepsiCo kerfuffle
Didn’t get all that? Here’s a capsule review of the past 24+ hours:
- The 8,000,000-pound corporate gorilla PepsiCo struck a deal with Seed Media Group to join ScienceBlogs
- “Food Frontiers,” as the new blog is called, started with an introductory post by Evan Lerner
- The science blogosphere threw a conniption, with the majority* saying: “WTF is going on here?”
- In protest, some ScienceBloggers decided to vacate the premises (some temporarily, some permanently)
- ScienceBlogs finally added disclaimers about the nature of the PepsiCo relationship, i.e. that it’s “advertorial”
- News outlets (e.g. The Guardian) ran pieces about the fiasco
- When it’s a little too late, Adam Bly — founder and CEO of Seed — sent this letter to the ScienceBloggers
- (welcome to the present)
In short, ScienceBlogs — for various reasons — pissed off a lot of people.
But are we all overreacting over a communications oversight here? Or is this a legitimate, fist-slamming-on-the-desk moment to stick up to The Man?
Or perhaps a bit of both? (more…)