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National Geographic takes over ScienceBlogs

The unfolding story of National Geographic's takeover of the ScienceBlogs network from Seed Media Group (originally it was believe this was a purchase, but the situation seems to be more subtle, see reports below).


  1. It began with a blog post by PZ Myers.

    "Scienceblogs is going to be folded into a new organization sometime soon — basically, we've been bought. I can't discuss all of the details just yet, but let's just say it is a prestigious national magazine with a healthy bottom line that will do us a lot of good."
  2. A discussion broke out among many science bloggers on Twitter. Curious, I decided to do some digging on Google, and stumbled across a story from 2009 which I'd largely forgotten about.
  3. According to the report: "Under the deal, NatGeo will take a minority stake in the platform, and will also take over the ad sales for the network of specialized blogs, headed by Jim Hoos, VP of Digital Media Sales for NGDM. The two companies will create and exchange content, including video content."

    This was obviously quite significant. Any company buying out ScienceBlogs would presumably have to get past National Geographic. Meanwhile, the national magazine already had access to Seed's ad data, and a good picture of their audience, who would presumably be a natural fit for the magazine. It seemed logical for them to take that partnership to the next level, so I tweeted my prediction.
  4. My instincts appeared to be confirmed moments later by Ivan Oransky at RetractionWatch:
  5. RetractionWatch is a highly respected blog, and the move made a lot of sense. This seemed to be a genuine scoop, but to be sure I fired e-mails to the press officers at National Geographic and Seed Media Group in an attempt to get them to confirm or deny the story.

    Meanwhile, former Seed employee Christopher Mims decided to launch into an impromptu history of the blogging network he helped found, broadcast via a series of tweets on Twitter.
  6. And there were a lot about. Science blogs have been around in some form or another for more than a decade now, and major blogs like Pharyngula and Panda’s Thumb were already established as top blogs in their own right by the middle of the 00s, having gradually emerged from forums, USENet groups and the like. By the beginning of 2006, science bloggers – particularly in the United States – were beginning to enter the mainstream of scientific discourse, and had begun to draw the attention of mainstream publishers.
  7. In fact ScienceBlogs was launched in January 2006 according to their website, so presumably these events would have taken place in 2005.
  8. Of course, one of the key things to realize here is that Pharyngula, PZ's blog, still accounts for a very big chunk of ScienceBlogs' traffic (and the future success of the site is probably not unrelated to his decision to stay or leave under new management).

    In a way, since that burst of inspiration in 2006 ScienceBlogs has never gone much further.
  9. Indeed, and to this day a stupendous number of people still can't grasp that blogs are a medium, and journalism is a form of writing, and therefore the two are not somehow opposing things. It was a revolutionary idea at the time though, and one which Discover Wired, etc., have only recently copied.