So Pepsiblog has finally died. Seed will be having a conference call with us bloggers about how to mend the damage. Leave questions or comments to pass along in the comments. This was the only move they could make at this point, but it may have come to slowly to fix the reputation of ScienceBlogs. It can’t have been an easy choice, as the Pepsi money could pay for a couple months’ salary for the people who take care of us.
For a sense of the damage done, one need only look to one of the newest Scibling, an institutional blog from Brookhaven National Laboratory. They, along with the Weizmann Institute of Science and the SETI Institute, joined as the first blogs written by research organizations, rather than individual bloggers. When they joined, no one really had any problem with it, or any questions about the propriety.
But in the wake of Pepsiblog, they felt a need to make A Clarification:
we want to clarify Brookhaven’s involvement on this site. …
There’s no money being exchanged between Brookhaven and ScienceBlogs.
Of course, we see this as a good public relations opportunity. But that doesn’t mean that this space will only be used to redistribute press releases (and I hope our first posts have shown that).
We want to be an active and valuable member of this community, but we’ll leave that to you to judge.
And looking at their posts thus far, it is good stuff. Until Pepsiblog, I’d never have suspected them of being advertorial. This is the damage that Pepsiblog has done to the reputation of the site. Every blogger can now have their motives and funding questioned because Seed made a bad call. Canceling the Pepsi deal doesn’t restore the site’s reputation, it just stops any more immediate damage, and shows that the management is responsive, though somewhat slow and out of touch with their readers and bloggers. Fixing that will take time.