I reacted to the news about the Pepsiblog debacle with a cynical smirk and a sinking feeling in my stomach. Though I am interested in health-related and environmental issues, they are not at the forefront of my blogging or my professional life. Of course it hurts the Sb brand and Sb’s journalistic credibility when the Overlords sell centre-column space to an agribusiness junk-food multinational. PepsiCo would be controversial among the SciBlings even if they just advertised in the sidebar. But to someone writing mainly about Scandy archaeology, skepticism, books and music, it’s not such a big deal.
Instead, the Pepsiblog mainly interests me as an indicator of Seed Media Group’s financial solvency. And that scares me. Things have been looking pretty grim backstage here at Sb since the late-2008 credit crunch. My impression is that Sb is SMG’s one remaining cash cow, but a cow whose owner can’t really afford to feed it. To me, the Pepsiblog looks like a desperate attempt to make that cow yield a bit more milk before she’s sent to become dog food and garden fertiliser. Or is it just to keep everybody alive for the last few weeks of a lean winter? After which the cow will be fed again? I don’t know and SMG ain’t telling.
Of course I’m proud to be a SciBling, associated with so many great bloggers. But above all, Sb means readers to me, quality readers and commenters. It means that I get a share of the huge and constantly growing traffic generated by Pharyngula, Dispatches and Insolence. It means that my blog has a Google PageRank of 7 out of 10. After 3½ years at Sb I have a lot invested in this URL.
So if you’re an Aard regular, let me tell you that you needn’t worry about me jumping ship or quitting blogging. What you may need to prepare for is upheavals if/when Seed Media Group finds that selling Sb’s journalistic credibility isn’t enough to keep them afloat, and they simply sell the whole cow.
Image by Seda of Vårby school.