EVERYBODY’S BITCH: To whore or not to whore- that is the question every “blogger” faces, whether of the journalistic or social networking type.
Last week Honolulu Advertiser blogger and former Star-Bulletin Editor Dave Shapiro set off a turd-storm describing how he
read in the Pacific Business News how a bunch of bloggers and social media types from the Mainland were here on a free Hawai`i vacation compliments of the Hawai`i Tourism Authority.
I don't have the marketing expertise to say whether the $15,000 paid by HTA on the So Much More Hawai`i junkets was worthwhile in terms of attracting visitors to Hawai`i.
But the new media folks accepting the freebies were a throwback to the bad old days of journalism when favorable coverage was for sale at the right price
Well after Dave referred them to the Society of Professional Journalists Ethics Code which forbids “freebies” for travel writers (and other “reviewers) because of the obvious conflict of interest, many of the blogger/whores- who were acting as journalists but were really just PR hacks masquerading as reporters- got wind of the post and tried to defend themselves.
After the denials by some that “I’m not a journalists- I’m just a blogger”- despite the fact that they are doing exactly what a reporter does- their reactions were, like any child caught with their hand in the cookie jar, expected and priceless in defending their actions with either “but everyone else is doing it” or “well, really I didn’t take THAT much money/freebie”.
But those who “blog” and also try to maintain actual journalistic principles face the same dilemma facing newspapers these days- how to financially support their efforts and still maintain those ethical standards.
Some may solicit donations like Disappeared News’ Larry Geller. But many others like Ian Lind have turned to advertising which is all too easy with “googleads” and “doubleclick” offering cash-for-eyeballs, even if it is at a rate of pennies a click.
Today Ian- and the rest of us- got a lesson on the pitfalls of “signing up” to allow ads to appear with his posts.
Ian, a former investigative reporter for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, usually provides comments and added content on local stories and provides links to interesting web sites and posts, all interspersed with original reporting.
But today he presented arguably the best piece of investigative journalism in the state this year with under the professionally crafted headline Door-to-door security sales ringing consumer alarms.
It details an apparent scam happening on O`ahu involving Mormon students on summer vacation who are parlaying their door-to-door skills gained in “missionary” work into selling fly-by-night, long-term contacts for “free” home security systems.
The problem is that when you click through to the stand-along page for Lind's article, right across the top, googleads/doubleclick has pasted a click-on ad reading
Need and Alarm system?
Let Buyerzone Save You Time and Money
Compare Alarm System Price Quotes and Save
And of course when you click it on you see
Buyer Zone- used by over 4 million buyers
Compare Free Quotes- Let us save you time and money in 5 minutes- Take our Survey
Or....Search our Directory of Monitored Alarm System Companies
Of course when you “search” there is only one company to “compare” - ADT Monitored Alarm Systems”, a “reputable” company with many years in the business.
Lind has no control over which ad google will post with which article, but of course google is well known for automating a process where their ads correlate with the content- as anyone who uses gmail knows all too well
The problem is that to anyone who doesn’t know how google works or doesn’t put it together with the ad on Ian’s site, it makes what is an extraordinary piece of investigative work onto one that raises questions about the integrity of the author by making it appear Lind is just running down the competition for his “paid” masters.
No reputable newspaper runs ads based on content- note the word “reputable” since it seems to happen more and more these days. And certainly they would never be so gauche as to put the ad at the top of a page that contains an article on a related subject. And that goes double for on-line ads... if they have the ability to control it.
While on-line ad revenue for news providers will seemingly be minimal for the foreseeable future. if the google-style information gobbling and regurgitation advertising model is the future of newspaper reporting, those getting freebies on tourism marketing junkets may be the least of the ethical problems for the “news business”.