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12:34

Science bloggers leave AOL in protest at Pepsi sponsorship

Fascinating round-up from David Dobbs about the exodus of science bloggers from AOL’s ScienceBlogs network, part of its Seed magazine title, over the launch of a new blog sponsored by PepsiCo.

The origins of the PepsiCo blog – money rather than merit – would not have matched those of other bloggers on the network: it’s an issue of credibility and trust between the readers and writers, says Dobbs.

Does this advertising-editorial wall ensure good journalism? Unfortunately, no; people find other ways to botch journalism. But in the murky world of media, we need a few firm lines to keep us away from slippery slopes. This pact between publisher, writer, and reader provides one of the most vital. It forms the foundation of reader trust; violating it erodes that foundation. Ads are a necessary evil. Credible publications present them unambiguously as third-party commercial messages so the reader instantly knows someone is selling something. That’s why patching a couple of stickers on a blog that presents itself in every other way as editorial content, as Seed proposed before killing the Pepsi blog, doesn’t work. It’s like sticking a lapel button on a guy at the front of the church in a tuxedo and expecting us to think he’s not part of the wedding. The guy needs different clothes.

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