At this time, I have no intention of leaving ScienceBlogs over the paid PepsiCo blog. I’m very sorry to hear that several of the other bloggers here have decided to leave, but they have their reasons, and it’s their decision.
Ultimately, I suspect that the reason I am relatively unperturbed by this whole mess comes down to a fundamental split between how I view blogging and how they view blogging.
The controversy centers around whether the PepsiCo blog as originally presented violates journalistic standards. I think it pretty clearly did, but I also think that problem has largely been fixed with subsequent edits to the format.
More importantly, though, I do not consider myself a journalist. I do not consider what I do here to be a form of journalism. I’m a physicist, a college professor, and an author, and I write this blog on the side as a kind of hobby, shading into promotional activity. I don’t see my relationship to ScienceBlogs as being like that of a journalist to a newspaper or magazine. ScienceBlogs is a hosting platform for my personal blog, and that’s it.
My credibility as a scientist comes from my undergraduate and graduate degrees, my research publications, and (a distant third) from my affiliation with Union College. My credibility as a blogger comes from my track record of posting here and at my own site before ScienceBlogs existed. I don’t feel that my credibility is significantly derived from the ScienceBlogs name or network. Frankly, if I felt that the quality or credibility of my blog was negatively affected by anything written on a completely different blog on the network, I would’ve left a long time ago, as there have been many things done by ScienceBlogs bloggers that I would rather not be associated with.
Thus, I am not terribly concerned that there is a blog on the network that may or may not someday contain material promoting PepsiCo products (remember, this whole thing blew up before any content beyond a welcome message was put on the blog in question). In much the same way that I am not deleting my Facebook account because there are profiles on there that are just fronts for commercial concerns, or abandoning Twitter because there are Twitter users who are PR flacks for one company or another. In my view, ScienceBlogs is a hosting platform for my blog, in the same way that Facebook and Twitter are hosting platforms for my personal accounts, and the accounts I created for the dog to help promote my book.
I can understand, though, that people who consider themselves primarily journalists, and their blogs an outgrowth of their journalistic careers, would find the PepsiCo thing an outrageous violation. I don’t share their view of what these blogs are, so I don’t share their outrage, but I understand why people who see things that way would choose to leave.
So, I’m not going anywhere just yet. Does that mean I’ll never leave over some decision made by ScienceBlogs amangement? No. It’s possible that they’ll do something in the future that pisses me off enough to leave, but this isn’t it. Does that mean I wouldn’t jump ship if Discover or somebody made me a better offer? No. If you’ve got a network of science blogs and would like a low-energy physicist and his talking dog, I’ll listen to what you have to say. But this particular incident is not enough to make me want to leave.
And that’s all I have to say. If you have something to say to me about the Rock’n’Roller Cola War, this is the place to say it.