Thursday, July 08, 2010

PepsiCo. tries to buy credibility by buying ScienceBlogs


For evidence based bloggers like me the news that ScienceBlogs has just published a new nutrition blog, Food Frontiers was shocking news. It was shocking because it's not being written by some hand-selected blogger, it's being written by Pepsi Cola.

So why does that matter?

Because PepsiCo.'s job isn't to push science or evidence based nutrition, Pepsi's job is to push calories and products that increase shareholder's value with no concern for the public good (unless the public good happens to sell products).

The irony on the blog itself is sugary sweet as well given that Pepsi's products have dramatically increased the burden of disease over the course of the past half century and yet their new ScienceBlog is reporting they're there to,

"Discuss the science behind the food industry’s role in addressing global public health challenges"
PepsiCo. of course isn't stupid. Their job is to make themselves look like the good guys and partnerships with folks like ScienceBlogs allow them to whitewash their sugary laundry in a way that simple press releases cannot.

Of course it's not just me who's upset - have a peek at some of ScienceBlog's own bloggers who are chomping at their own bits:

Orac from Respectful Insolence - Blindsided by my corporate overlords and PepsiCo

Peter Lipson from White Coat Underground - Rethinking blog networks and ethics

Grrlscience from Living the Scientist Life (with a URL that includes how she really feels) - Pepsi Ethics

Alex Wild from Myrmecos - Enjoy a nice cold Pepsi today.

Mark C. Chu-Carroll from Good Math, Bad Math - Seed, Conflicts of Interest and Sleaze.

Jason G. Goldman from The Thoughtful Animal - A Pepsi Blog? Initial Thoughts.

Janet D. Stemwedel from Adventures in Ethics and Science - Welcome to Inescapable Conflict of Interest

Abel Pharmboy from Terra Sigillata - PepsiCo Food Frontiers blog did not have to be a #sbFAIL

Martin Rundkvist from Aardvarcheology - An Egoistic Perspective on the Pepsiblog Debacle

John Wilbanks from Common Knowledge - Of Pepsi and ScienceBlogs...

John Dupuis from Confessions of a Science Librarian - A Teachable Moment

Joshua Rosenau from Thoughts from Kansas - More on Pepsi

And so far Sharon from Causobon's Book, James Hrynyshyn from Class: M, Rebecca Skloot from Cuture Dish, Erik Klemetti from Eruptions Mark Chu-Carroll from Good Math, Bad Math, Chris Rowan and Anne Jefferson from Highly Allochtonous, Brian Switek from Laelaps, Mike from Mike the Mad Biologist, Alex Wild at Myrmecos, David Dobbs at Neuron Culture, Scicurious at Neurotopia, Eric Michael Johnson from The Primate Diaries, Dave Bacon from The Quantum Pontiff, Blake Stacey from Science after Sunclipse, and Maryn McKenna from Superbug, have either gone on hiatus or quit in disgust.

That's 33% of all current ScienceBloggers either pissed off or gone due Seed's strange decision to start selling blogs.

Interestingly here's what Seed Media Group has to say about how ScienceBlogs goes about choosing their bloggers,
"We have selected our 80+ bloggers based on their originality, insight, talent, and dedication and how we think they would contribute to the discussion at ScienceBlogs."
And yet for Food Frontiers there's no particular voice they've chosen as according to the Food Frontiers sidebar,
"All editorial content is written by PepsiCo's scientists or scientists invited by PepsiCo and/or ScienceBlogs"
My advice to Seed Media - if you're not going to dump Food Frontiers, at the very least change your ScienceBlogs About Us page to reflect the fact that you'll also sell anyone a blog if the price is right because if you didn't haul in a huge wad of dough for this asinine move then you're crazier than I imagine and given who you've just sold out to, I think you're pretty freakin' crazy.

[Update 10:32AM - The word on Twitter is that ScienceBlogs will be dumping Food Frontiers though I haven't seen anything official anywhere

Update 11:01AM - Official word]