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Bribed Bloggers Have no Credibility

March 18, 2009

Bribed Bloggers Have no Credibility

Another marketing trade publication recently reported that the practice of bloggers accepting payment to write about marketers’ products and services is here to stay and offered some stats to back up the claim. 

Bloggers who accept payment to write positively about products and services have crossed a line that utterly destroys their credibility. What is more, they’re giving into publishing’s worst instincts. What they’re doing is not new. It’s just stupid.

The so-called wall between the business side and the editorial side of publishing has always given both sides fits. The ad sales folks are forever trying to wiggle into editorial on behalf of their clients and prospects.

Though this is especially true in trade publishing, it happens in the consumer press, as well. I once had an ad-sales rep at the New York Sun stop talking to me—even when we were the only two people on the elevator—when I ignored his requests to write about his clients.

And under current business conditions, the heat from ad sales on editorial across the land is probably hitting an all-time high.

Print is dying. Whether it will completely go away is anyone’s guess. I used to say that as long as there are men and toilets, print will never die. But with the introduction of the very user friendly Amazon Kindle, now I’m not so sure.

Also, as the economy suffers, marketing budgets are the first thing the CFO cuts. As a result, ad sales are drying up.

The folks who make their living selling ads—those who are left anyway—are in a complete panic.

My wife is a media buyer. She says that never has she called so many vendors to hear that: “So-and-so doesn’t work here anymore.”

The panic is understandable.

But it’s no reason to drive journalistic standards into the ground—what little the public believes we professional reporters have left anyway.

When a writer gains an audience, they do so with their authenticity and credibility.

When a writer is being paid to have an opinion, sooner or later it will become apparent, readers will hit the exits and pretty soon there will be no audience to read the bribe-driven copy or against which to sell ads.

It’s an inevitable scenario. And it’s what will most certainly happen to bloggers who take bribes.

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