No doubt you have heard the news by now. ScienceBlogs is teaming up with National Geographic “for a big, sciencey love-in.” We ScienceBloggers will get access to some NG photos and video while NG will get some cross-promotion here, though I am not sure when all of this will start to be put in effect.
I am of two minds about the partnership. On the one hand I am looking forward to picking through the material NG makes accessible and the potential writing opportunities the partnership might provide. At the very least there will be more to blog about.
On the other hand, however, I am concerned that ScienceBlogs might be used as a platform to push sensationalist crap. Although National Geographic is arguably the most recognizable name in popular science, in recent years I have become frustrated by some of the sensationalist nonsense that the company has promoted. Among other things (such as the over-the-top ads for a recent show about headshrinking) I was aggravated by the fact that the media company hyped the discovery of a “mummy” dinosaur before any scientific study of the fossil was completed. The same was done with a baby mammoth named “Lyuba.” The merits of such media techniques are debatable, but I am still a little worried that NG might use ScienceBlogs to sell sensationalist stories to the public. (And we’ve had enough of that for other companies already.)
But do not worry about my individual contribution to ScienceBlogs. National Geographic will not be exerting editorial control over what I write so I will be free to criticize them. If that changes at any point I will leave ScienceBlogs rather than just “play nice.” I do not say this as a threat, but only as an assurance that my freedom to write is more important to me than where I write. Such concerns aside, I hope the partnership will be beneficial for both Sb and NG.