Lessons from PepsiGate August 13, 2010

Lessons from PepsiGate

Freelance writer Rebecca Fernandez suggests five lessons learned during the ScienceBlogs PepsiGate scandal.

She goes into more depth in her article, but here are the the bulletpoints:

Lesson #1: You might be a journalist.
Lesson #2: Your brand is no longer your own.
Lesson #3: You can’t buy a seat in a meritocracy.
Lesson #4: The Internet never forgets.
Lesson #5: Sorry, Seth, but it’s pretty hard to be a linchpin.

The one that stands out to me is #1.

I would’ve laughed at that a couple years ago, but I’ve come to realize how true it is. Bloggers can be journalists — especially when we know a lot about our particular niche — and our opinions do matter. We can do interviews with people we read about in the news. We can function as a publicity arm for the products, books, and ideas we are passionate about. We can write posts the mainstream media would never publish.

In many cases, a single blog gets more readers than some newspapers. It’s a weird form of power. But it’s not just about popular bloggers. You could have only a handful of readers, yet stil have an influence over how they think about a topic. How cool is that.

And as PepsiGate showed us, what gets published under our name can undermine our credibility if we’re not careful.

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  • rbray18

    pepsigate,crackergate, various other gates.
    so when is gategate going to happen? 😀

  • Canadiannalberta

    Gategate 🙂

    I don’t get #5.

  • I have 17 readers who need influencing!

    Actually, it’s true – one of my blogging goals is to demonstrate that atheists are regular people living regular lives. I think only 2 of my regular readers are atheists, so that leaves 15 people who may benefit from this lesson.

    I missed the whole Pepsigate fiasco, though, so I only have the barest understanding of it.

  • Yeah, I have a grand total of 9 blog followers. 🙂 One of them, though (a person of faith) left a comment on one of my posts that really had an impact on me. She said that my posts had made her start thinking about her own beliefs; why she believes what she does, and even *if* she really believes. That was a cool moment for me. It was only one person…but if I could make just ONE person think about something they never considered before…well, hey! That’s really cool!

    I can’t even begin to imagine what it must feel like to be a blogger with a huge readership (like Hemant, PZ, or a handful of others I myself read regularly).

  • Now you have 10 followers, Erin.

  • Parse

    Rbray18, Canadianalberta, don’t forget that a secondary scandal will eventually rise out of that, and be called gategategate.

    The ‘Seth’ referenced to in point 5 is apparently Seth Godin, author of “Linchpin”, which is seems to be about making yourself indispensible to your employer by seizing the initiative and doing something unique for your company.

    So what #5 says is that you are replaceable, no matter if you’re a blog, or a blog network, or anything. If Hemant stopped blogging entirely, we’d miss his website, and friendlyatheist.com would ascend to Bloghalla, but eventually we’d find other sites to scratch the itch that keeps us coming back here.

    (In other news, bloghalla.com would make an excellent website name.)

  • Canadiannalberta

    Parse, thank you!

    Hmmm. Gategategategate…ug, we could go on forever. 😉