No, no, I'm not talking about that. But I did come across two interesting articles in the arena of blogging for profit that I thought I'd share:
- Bloggers for sale: Call it payola for the internet age or simply a new spin on marketing, but many bloggers are increasingly getting paid for writing about products without telling their readers.
- Influential bloggers get free computers, Vista from Microsoft: Microsoft Corp.'s efforts to woo influential bloggers by sending them free computers loaded with the Vista operating system is generating controversy, with some online writers attacking would-be Vista reviewers for taking what were tantamount to bribes, while recipients defend their editorial independence, arguing that journalism-style rules prohibiting such gifts are outdated.
I think the answer to the first question is some are, and some aren't. Well, not quite journalists, but something close. They do basic research, talk to people, try to get the story, and get it out, with a side dish or partisan spin. More like columnists maybe. Others are just about the partisan spin; I wouldn't put them in the semi-journo category.
That brings us to the second question, what standards of journalistic-type ethics should bloggers hold themselves to? Besides a requirement to be aware of libel law, there is no requirement for bloggers to hold themselves to any kind of a standard at all, beyond those that may be set by any aggregators/communities they join. Nor should there be, the Internet is meant to be a bit Wild West like.
It is purely voluntary, but the good bloggers should, and will, hold themselves to a standard, whatever it may be for each person. It's a matter of credibility. Because it's that first group of bloggers, which try to meet some level of journalisticy standards, which are taken more seriously by the wider community of readers.
And when it comes to the kinds of blogging ethical standards questions raised in these two pieces, the answer usually is disclosure, and honesty. Don't hide the fact you took a computer but rather include that fact in your posting, and explain why. Then the reader has all the information, and is able to judge accordingly.
In the interests of journalistic full disclosure I'll say last month I was contacted by a book publisher and asked if I'd be interested in copies of political books from time to time so I can review them on my blog. I accepted and a review of the first book, the Harper bio I mentioned the other day, will be posted soon. And the review will include a note that a review copy was provided.
I've got to say though that personally, you can't keep the computer people. Some bloggers awhile back were offered cell phones to review and were allowed to keep them; I passed as I wasn't with the particular wireless carrier but some accepted. That's fine, again as long as the circumstances are disclosed.
But a free computer? That's just ridiculous. There's a line, and taking a free computer is way over it, IMO. Recommend this Post on Progressive Bloggers