This morning I saw a post on MarkCC’s Good Math, Bad Math entitled Seed, Conflicts of Interest, and Sleaze. “Ooh,” thinks I, “this looks like just another storm in the blogosphere teacup!”
But then I actually read the post.
This is my first non-origami post here on The Kitchen Sink, and I think it’s important.
In a spectacularly stupid decision, Seed (the corporate over-mind behind ScienceBlogs) are now hosting a PepsiCo blog. Now I understand that advertising is needed to fund blogs; bandwidth and storage don’t come for free. Heck, WordPress even puts google ads on this blog… but they are clearly marked as ads, and all money from them goes to WordPress, not to me.
But PepsiCo’s blog on ScienceBlogs is different.
“Why is a PepsiCo ScienceBlog such a big deal?” I hear you cry. Because ScienceBlogs has developed a reputation for good honest blogging about, well, science. Allowing PepsiCo to buy their way into the blog roster, where they claim to be blogging about nutrition and are on an equal footing to the genuine science bloggers, can do nothing but damage this reputation.
Yes that’s right, PepsiCo are blogging about nutrition! A corporate giant, which makes billions from selling coloured sugar-water when obesity is the number one health issue in the West, is blogging about nutritional science. Surely it’s nothing more than paid advertising disguised as a blog.
ScienceBlogs has seriously damaged its credibility here, and risks damaging the credibility of its bloggers. I’m not surprised Mark is moving away. A number of other SciBloggers have also moved away or are considering doing so.
As Orac points out in Blindsided by my corporate overlords and PepsiCo, the Pepsi blog is actually on more than an equal footing than the regular SciBloggers:
[I]t’s a corporate blog, written by scientists working for the corporation and edited by Evan Lerner and other ScienceBlogs editors. We don’t get that kind of attention from our management.
I can’t see this ending well for ScienceBlogs or its bloggers.
Edit to add: PZ doesn’t seem happy either.