Today’s Boston Globe featured a rather interesting story in its Business section. They profiled a blogger who’s learned how he can supplement her income and lifestyle: he accepts gifts from companies and plug their products on his blog. IT’s kind of like product placement on TV shows and in movies, but with one crucial distinction. In those cases, ads are expected; within the content of a blog, it’s presumed to be personal opinion.
To give the devil (or rather, the Glob) their due, this is a Bad Thing. One of the strengths of the blogosphere is its transparency. People should disclose when they are expressing an honest opinion, and when they’re getting paid for it.
The Glob also goes on to tie it into the last election cycle. But instead of mentioning Kos being on the payroll as a Democratic consultant while blogging, or the free flow of people between the DNC and MoveOn.org and other organizations. No, they go after the two South Dakota bloggers who consulted for Thune in his successful race against Tom Daschle without mentioning their little side business on their blogs.
I have no problem with this in theory. It’s the execution that bothers me. If a person accepts money or other compensation for mentioning a product, they ought to let the readers know that the content has veered from personal opinion to bought-and-paid-for. It’s a simple matter of integrity.
That being said, if a certain company or two is looking for a spokesblogger, I’m willing to listen…