Let’s Get Ethical, Ethical

22 01 2012

“Blog-Money”
I am currently on a coach bus on my way back from a track meet at the U of M. I should probably get going on this week’s reading and response, huh? (Note: I am NOT a procrastinator, despite the typical college-kid stereotype).

I have decided to post as I go through the assigned reading. Not only will it make it easier on my sore iPhone-tapping thumbs, but it’ll be more enjoyable for you to read smaller posts.

As a Public Relations major, I was very drawn into the section about earning money from blogging. I took a magazine class last semester, and of course we talked a great deal about the aspects of a magazine’s biggest money-maker: advertisements.

In the world of old media advertising, it is often considered unethical to let advertising mix with editorial content. (ex: advertorials or bribes to convey an advertiser in a positive light). It construes the truth and can ruin an organization’s integrity and credibility. As a journalist, that’s a big NO NO. I’ve had two rules drilled in my head: 1) check your sources, and 2) seek only the truth.

So naturally you can understand the wincing pain in my PR-hardwired brain when I read about PayPerPost. Even though blogging has a whole different set of rules than journalism (and beautifully exercises the First Amendment), this one kinda hurts. If you’re someone who has enough viewers and influential power to do PayPerPost, wouldn’t you want your readers to do or buy something because you truly believe they should, because you did the research and investigation to support it? Levinson briefly addresses this issue, but I don’t think he saw it as great of an issue as I.

I understand the need to make money. We need it to live. Ads are a great way to help with that. But once a blogger compromises his integrity and what he sees as truth for the sake of money, should he consider the ethics of his actions?

Bloggers are free to do (almost) whatever they want on their site. That’s the beauty of it. But as a journalist, I have a code of ethics that strives to find the unbiased truth, and I struggle to see how the benefits would outweigh my burdened conscience.

Opinions
What’s your opinion of PayPerPost? All opinions are gladly accepted. I love hearing other perspectives. It makes learning so great.

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4 responses

23 01 2012
ilikepinapple

I’m not thrilled with the idea either, but then again, it is the Internet, and not everything/everyone is reliable and trustworthy. I know when I’m considering buying something, (say a book), I check Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, and Google Books to read every review I can. And when I encounter a blog that’s writing an excellent review of some product that seems kind of mediocre, I’ll do the same thing, regardless of how much I like/trust the blogger.

However, not everyone’s that scrupulous. But blogging is/can be another form of advertisement, marketing yourself and WordPress at the very least. It’s ironic that I’m commenting on this, because I just posted about my experience with my ereader and gave it a mostly “glowing review”, haha.

23 01 2012
shredfast

I do the same intense review research on productS too (probably why it takes me forever to buy something!). And I do agree, yes, it’s the Internet; it’s a different ball game in the world of new new media. But see what you did with your e-reader is very ethical in my eyes. You gave your honest opinion, and it wasn’t tainted by money from the company. THAT’S an element I don’t want messed with by advertisers

23 01 2012
flufferwuffer

As a blogger, I thought about PayPerPost-type money-making avenues in the past, but never actually used them. Now, when I first heard about it, I was against the idea, too. I also thought it was a huge compromise of integrity, especially with most of the blogs I read at the time (many of them were review blogs that promoted or persuaded against products they have tried).

However, I’ve read some blogs that I think handle the PayPerPost problems ideally and ethically. Some businesses would rather you passionately praise their product/service, and some bloggers are willing to do that without a second thought. However, many services are paying you just to post about it. Some of the bloggers who used PayPerPost I noticed wrote their post about the product/service, but not only made it clear that they were getting paid for the post, also made it clear that they hadn’t personally tried it (or maybe they had in the past, but they made that clear as well), and many have outrightly stated that “I haven’t tried the product/service, but from what the business says about it, I might try it out. Whether you do or not is up to you. But I wouldn’t post about it if it didn’t at least sound interesting.”

I guess, if anything, that makes the most sense to me. I mean, think about talking to friends about a new phone you saw an ad for, and saying that you think you want the phone because of how cool it looked in the ad. Some bloggers treat PayPerPost just like that, just with text.

So, it could go either way. In my opinion, it’s up to the blogger to be ethical about it or not.

23 01 2012
shredfast

Excellent viewpoint, and I would agree that it is the most ethically sound way to do it. Would I do it? Still no. But that is an excellent argument and information I was unaware of. Thanks!

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