Tuesday, March 13, 2007

PayPerPost, ReviewMe, other sites under fire?

Stumbled across this article today from the LATimes that talks about bloggers writing sponsored posts and asks the question: Is it ethical?

It's a really good article, one that I think asks a lot of good questions. Is it ethical to write about something and not disclose that you were paid to write about it? I like the little buttons PayPerPost designed to go at the bottom of posts, which makes it easier to spot the sponsored posts from the unsponsored ones.

My favorite quote in the article comes from Jason McCabe Calacanis, who co-founded Weblogs, Inc.: ""PayPerPost versus authentic blogging is like comparing prostitution with making love to someone you care for deeply. No one with any level of ethics would get involved with these clowns." I don't particularly agree with his statement, but it really sums up what he thinks, that's for sure.

Since I do consider myself to be a journalist (hence the URL) I don't really feel right about getting paid to write about a certain topic. But for others, who blog mainly as a way to get income or just as a side hustle, I see no problem with it.

Read this bit of the article, written by Josh Friedman and decide for yourself:

Blogger Colleen Caldwell rants and riffs about whatever strikes her fancy —
a run-in with her child's school principal, the rising price of Girl Scout
thin mints, an upcoming movie that caught her eye.

"Has anyone out there read a book called 'The Ultimate Gift'? I just heard that a movie is being made of the book (which sold 4 million copies)," she wrote in a recent post on her site, Simple Kind of Life.The 30-year-old software analyst from Brooksville, Fla., went on to praise the inspirational message of the Fox Faith film, which opens today, about a trust fund baby who discovers the joy of giving.

Caldwell noted that each member of the opening-weekend audience was being allowed to direct a dollar of the ticket price to a charity of the filmgoer's choice.One thing Caldwell didn't mention: She was paid $12 to build buzz about the movie's opening and the charitable campaign — bringing her blogging-for-dollars take to more than $7,700.Thousands of bloggers are writing sponsored posts touting such diverse topics as diamonds, digital cameras and drug clinics. The bloggers are spurred by new marketing middlemen such as PayPerPost Inc. that connect advertisers with mom-and-pop webmasters.Some of their fellow bloggers are critical, saying the industry is polluting the blog world and misleading consumers by blurring the line between advertising and unbiased opinion.

You can read the rest of the article here.


Paula Neal Mooney said...

Yes, that was a great piece.

And the question of ethics is a good one.

That's why I walk a fine line between the stuff I'll post about and the stuff I won't.

I won't lie.

But I believe some other bloggers and journalists are looking down their noses wrongly about pay-per-post sites.

The same bloggers who dog them out are the same ones who use paid ads on their sites.

And magazine and newspaper editors and writers are always aware of pressure from their sponsors to write in a manner befitting their products, or else the worry about losing those sponsors or their paid subscribers.

It's all a game.

Whether we play it with integrity or not is the real question...

Keith said...

I would argue that it's perfectly ethical as long as the you believe in the products or services you are writing about. If you are paid to write about the greatness of a film you've never seen, that's unethical. But if you are paid to praise, say, a stroller that you own and love, then it's all good.

Then again, I'm biased due to the fact that I'm broke. I would love for someone to pay me for just about anything.

That Journalist said...

Paula, I don't think anything you do is unethical, then again, I know you outside of your blog too, so I know that.

Keith, I'm broke too! Which I just wrote about in an earlier post. I wish someone would pay me to write about Steve Madden shoes or cupcakes (my two favorite things in the world)...

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