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    July 7, 2010

    Culture Dish Doesn’t Live at ScienceBlogs Anymore


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    As I said yesterday on Twitter, a big conflict of interest and transparency problem has arisen on ScienceBlogs. Like several other bloggers at ScienceBlogs, I’m now on a hiatus, however like like David Dobb’s, Blake Stacy’s, and others, my hiatus from ScienceBlogs will be permanent. I’ve been contemplating moving my blog from ScienceBlogs to my own site for a while for several reasons, but PepsiGate has sealed the deal for me. Several of my ScienceBlogs colleagues summed up the situation well, including PZ Myers, GrrlScientist, and Brian over at Laelaps. For a full recap of the issue and other ScienceBloggers’ responses, see this post from today’s Guardian. For a clear explanation of the ethical problems that make it so I will no longer be affiliated with Science Blogs, see this from the Knight Journalism Tracker: “ScienceBlogs Trashes its Bloggers’ Credibility.” I’m now looking for a permanent new home for my blog.  In the meantime, you can follow me on Twitter and Facebook and via this blog which has been moved to my personal website.

    UPDATE: The Guardian has just posted this letter sent to all ScienceBlogs bloggers today by  Adam Bly, head of Seed Media Group and ScienceBlogs.

    Update 2: See the Knight Journalism Tracker’s response to Adam Bly’s email linked above.

    Update 3: ScienceBloggers have just received a note from Adam Bly saying that in response to all of this, ScienceBlogs has begun making changes to the Pepsi blog, including adding a statement about conflict of interest and funding, adding a banner labeling it as “Advertorial.”

    12 Responses to “Culture Dish Doesn’t Live at ScienceBlogs Anymore”

    1. Greg Laden says:

      Blake: Good point. So, what needs to happen here is an OpenSource science blog network needs to form. Like PLoS rose from the conflagration that was the boycott.

    2. Synchronium says:

      DrugMunkee: Yeah, there is that. You could always all agree to chip in a bit to a common pot and use that to buy a server/domain on which to host all of the blogs?
      It’d take a while for business to resume as usual, but if you handled the move right, it could be the best thing alla yalls ever did.
      As I’ve said everywhere else, if anyone needs a hand or some more concrete ideas about how to move forward without fucking the whole thing up, let me know. I might have a sciency degree, but “the internet” is my day job.

    3. Blake Stacey says:

      I didn’t leak it, though I’m less than surprised that someone else did.
      I must admit, I’m vaguely puzzled that such a piece of vacuous management-speak would have been marked “confidential” in the first place. <sarcasm> Surely, amidst all our calls for greater transparency, the right thing to do is to reassure everyone with a confidential message! </sarcasm>

    4. Greg Laden says:

      Rebecca, sorry if my question implied that, I certainly did not mean to. I regard you as a person of the utmost integrity, and assumed you did not.
      just look at the ScienceBlogs backforum, which is filled with angry bloggers threatening to leak it.
      No thank you!
      James: As you can see from the decision to stay by some of the more popular SB blogs, e.g., Pharyngula and Greg Laden’s Blog.
      I have not made a decision to stay. I don’t accept that I’ve been handed a choice. Let’s be very clear about that: There is NOT a presumption that a given blogger must decide to do or not do what other bloggers have decided to do. In fact, I’ve made the argument that people should not be so shocked to find fighting in the war room. Although PepsiBlog Gate is different, and more extreme, it is the third, not the first, sponsored blog on a commercial network paid for by all sorts of evil ads.
      Shall I add this for irony: Any science blogger who has published a peer reviewed paper has quite possibly already sold her or his soul by publishing a self-promoting piece of writing (as peer reviewed papers are, always) in a journal owned by the same company that (fill in the blank … is a major arms dealer, made the nozzles used in the death camps, etc. etc.. or at least that also published what are effectively white supremacist journals.)
      And no, that is not extreme. Just an uncomfortable truth. Sb is no more or less OpenAccess and non-corporate than Newsweek or Time.
      This place was not the magic kingdom of righteousness yesterday. And this PepsiBlog thing needs to be fixed. I guess I’ll be here working on that while the rest of you are getting in bed with Google!!!! (How’s that or a little MnPassiveAggressive.)

    5. Greg: The fact that I linked to the leaked letter does not mean that I leaked it. I did not. But I’m not surprised it got out there — just look at the ScienceBlogs backforum, which is filled with angry bloggers threatening to leak it. The history of journalism is filled with internal documents leaked to the press as a way to better inform the public. I’m sure Bly knew that writing “confidential” across the top of that email wouldn’t keep it confidential.

    6. It’s tragic that SB would put profits above editorial integrity (I know, meet the boss, same as the old boss). Perhaps the defecting bloggers can create their own collective rather than attempt to go it alone, which we’ve already established is incredibly difficult.

    7. kevin z says:

      It took a bit less than a year for our readership to get back to SB levels after Deep Sea News left. Now we are doing better 🙂

    8. DrugMonkey is right. Most of us sciencebloggers were lured over here with the possibility of higher traffic and the promise of a little pay. As you can see from the decision to stay by some of the more popular SB blogs, e.g., Pharyngula and Greg Laden’s Blog.
      Meanwhile, in addition to Rebecca, other outstanding science journalists, David Dobbs and Brian Switzer among them, are leaving.
      I am giving Science Blogs a couple of days to reverse itself precisely because there are advantages to staying. Until then, Class M posts are suspended

    9. Greg Laden says:

      I wonder which science blogger felt s/he was above common courtesy and basic ethics to release a clearly marked confidential letter to The Guardian? Hopefully not one of the sciencebloggers who is offended by the breach of purity!

    10. DrugMonkey says:

      The problem is, Synchronium, that the audience boost provided by a collective is blogger-crack.

    11. Synchronium says:

      The best thing to do is shell out a few quid, buy a domain name and web hosting, and set up your own blog there (wordpress is great, but there are others).
      Then you have complete control over your content, you’re responsible for your own blog’s reputation, and you can earn back that few quid by renting your own advertising space, if you so wish.
      Honestly the best solution available. I’d recommend everyone leaving ScienceBlogs do the same. Perhaps you can invent your own stamp of approval for all these independent sites, instead of relying on ScienceBlog’s reputation.

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