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The Unnatural Habitat of Science Writer John Rennie

PepsiCo Scienceblog Goes Flat

John Rennie

That didn't take long. The PepsiCo-sponsored blog on Scienceblogs that caused such an uproar this week, and which I discussed here, has now been removed completely from the network site. Paul Raeburn at Knight Science Journalism Tracker had published a further follow-up this morning that included some additional steps announced by publisher Adam Bly to improved the presentation of advertorial blogs on the site. In the end, though, PepsiCo's Food Frontiers blog proved too much of a sore point to retain. (Surely, even PepsiCo must have started to see the initiative as liability.) Still, damage has been done to the Sb's relationships with its bloggers, some of whom have decamped permanently. What any of this will mean to Sb's audience, or for the future of blog networks more generally, remains to be seen.

This episode illustrates one potential obstacle that all would-be blog networkers should consider. Are the management, the bloggers and any sponsors all of a like mind about what the network's mission is? Is everyone clear on what the supposed advantages and ground rules for the existence of the network should be? Do all the parties understand what the stakes are for the others? If not, severe conflicts like this one seem more than likely to occur.