Paid blogging: right or wrong?
In the old media world, you have junkets and more junkets. In fact, you are even considered to have not arrived on the scene till you get an invite for a junket. For the non-media crowd, a junket is a trip paid-for by a company, about whom you have write (the writing part is not necessarily, but it is implied that you would and preferably in a positive manner). Junkets are organised by everyone, from the government to companies of all sizes and shapes, but the best ones often come from the IT crowd and are coveted by the ones who get it and looked at with considerable envy by the ones who don’t.
In the new media world, with bloggers hanging out their credibility and unbiased factors as their USP, junkets have become a bit of an issue. All of a sudden, the blogosphere has started making noises that were seen only, till recently, in mainstream media’s arena. There are now things they can’t talk about, issues with proper disclosure and what exactly constitutes proper disclosure and other eerily mainstream media problems that are creeping up in the blogs. In old media’s defence, most of the junkets and paid-for articles (with the exception of Medianet for BCCL), do carry the nominal disclosure that the trip was paid for by some firm and I’ve not seen too much of that, as a must-have, on the part of the bloggers.
If you ask me, it is well above board for bloggers to be paid for writing. Like everyone else, they do have a right to make a living, even if it is for something that they already like to do. I particularly like the guest paid and advertising post route that Paidcontent and Techcrunch has taken to advertising in the feeds and posts. It is open, clear and easy for everyone to understand and if you can get someone to write better content (the scores of documentation writers in the major tech companies can easily do it), the advertising content could even be made contextual. But it is imperative for bloggers to follow fair disclosure like a religion. Without credibility they don’t have much else to bank on, since most of their stuff is opinionated from the word go.
For instance, I saw this post on Amit Agarwal’s Digital Inspiration, which is one of the best general tech-related blogs anywhere, especially in terms how approachable it is for the average person. But the post has no relevance and is even factually wrong on a lot of counts (AJAX and Flex/Flash downloads application logic on to the client side, but they still do pull data from the servers and in offline mode offer only degraded views and not full functionality. Microsoft.com and Yahoo.com use Akamai’s distributed DNS service, not their CDN, which is used only for specific and selective purposes),
leading me to believe that it is a paid-for post ( do correct me if I am wrong about it. Amit wrote back saying it is not and that he’s never done a paid post on Digital Inspiration. Thanks Amit.), but the post carries no indication of that. I have a similar feeling about this Adotas post, though it is not half as bad as Amit’s post.
Disclosure: The official gig is an Akamai client.