Scientific American and Blogs

Today, the editors of Scientific American published a post announcing a new vision for the Scientific American blog network. It is not exactly clear how that new vision is going to play out. It does seem to mean that many excellent blogs on the network, including those written by friends, will go away.

Blog editor Curtis Brainard’s discussion of controversy surrounding one of their blogs reads like a prelude to today’s announcement.

We are currently revising guidelines with our blogging community with the aim of preventing missteps.

The new “Blog Network Guidelines” are strict, and appear specifically geared to preventing controversies like a blog posting racist and sexist arguments.

It is too early to comment on whether this is the “right” approach. Frankly, I am hopelessly conflicted as a number of friends doing excellent work will be losing a gig. It is, however, telling that Scientific American is recognizing that they have to take responsibility for everything that appears under their brand:

Among other things, people expect a higher level of accuracy, integrity, transparency and quality from media organizations, and that expectation applies as much to blog content as it does to more traditional content such as news and features—especially because many readers do not differentiate between the two types of content.

On a lighter note, this booilerplate disclaimer is ridiculous:

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those ofScientific American.

If the views of “The Editors” do not necessarily reflect the views of Scientific American, whose do? In this case, it seems obvious that the only resolution is to conclude that Scientific American as a publishing company is incapable of holding “views”, which may be upsetting to certain members of the Supreme Court.

Editorial Expectations

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.
Scientific American Blogs Disclaimer

There is no requirement that what you say you are and what your audience expects you to be will be the same thing. It is very hard, however, to tell your audience that their expectations and reactions are “wrong”.

Scientific American finds itself in this position once again thanks to another tone-deaf post on the Curious Wavefunction blog on the Scientific American Blogs network. Scientific American makes the disclaimer that the content of individual blogs on the blog network does not represent Scientific American.

No matter what they say, people are naturally going to assume that something published under the Scientific American branding will represent Scientific American quality and values.  Continue reading “Editorial Expectations”