This is a craft and thrifting blog, where I keep track of and share my creative endeavors. Since I started this blog a year ago I also have become quite a fan of reading blogs by others involved in similar crafty pursuits. In addition, I read a number of adoption blogs and enjoy some political blogs occasionally as well. Recently I learned about something that I and many others are very about. It's called PayPerPost.
PayPerPost is not web advertising, like when a website or a blog contains a display element that is clearly an advertisement for a product or service. That is a perfectly acceptable, and is comparable to what newspapers, magazines, television and radio shows--in short, other respectable media--do. And I have nothing against bloggers who want to earn some money with their blogs.
PayPerPost is different. It is a new venture in which bloggers are paid to gush about products WITHOUT DISCLOSING THAT THEY ARE BEING PAID TO DO SO. Now, I don't think you had to have taken journalistic ethics in school, as I did, to see that there is a problem with this. Marketing your product is not a bad thing; marketing it by being deceitful is. (Same goes for other guerilla marketing techniques, like paying popular high school girls to wear certain shoes, or planting people in bars to rave about specific drinks.) The key is disclosure, folks. Let's be honest.
I learned about this when a fellow blogger linked to this article in the Baltimore Sun. Here's another article in Business Week. Apparently the whole blogosphere is abuzz about this, as it could seriously compromise whatever credibility this new media has.
Now, as a journalist who has worked for organizations, like the church, that sometimes want to blur the lines between journalism and PR, I have seen the damage that this can do. When you can't trust the media anymore to tell the truth, our whole democratic society is in danger. I don't think that's an overstatment.
Shortly after hearing about this I was reading my daily dose of bloglines, and came across a post gushing about a product. No big deal; I read those all the times. I've shared my favorite products, too. But this time I had to think, "I wonder if this is one of those PayPerPosts"? I jotted off a quick comment to this effect, mostly trying to get a conversation going about how this sucks now that you can't trust who's blogging for profit or not.
This particular blogger was offended by what she perceived to be an assault on her character. I have apologized for the comment, as I did not mean to question her ethics, but rather to comment on the whole PayPerPost phenomenon., which I believe is seriously problematic. I have also seen other crafty bloggers saying, "I don't see what the problem is. I love hearing about recommended products."
I repeat: I do not believe it's problematic to recommend products you like. But thanks to PayPerPost, don't be surprised when something you thought was going to be great turns out to be crap because the blogger who gushed about it was exaggerating because they were paid to. I know the craft blog community assumes a level of trust that maybe doesn't exist in, say, political blogs, but they are not immune.
I know most people tune in here to see my latest felt creations or check out what I found at the Salvation Army last weekend. I'll be back to that in my next post. But I'd like to think some of my readers are interested in more serious subjects, too. Frankly, I was a little taken aback that everyone assumed my comments (admittedly terse) were a personal attack. If you want a blog without strong moral, ethical, and even political opinions, then maybe mine is not for you.
Meanwhile, since many Posties (people who PayPerPost) are not disclosing their true identities, I will: I do not and will not accept payment for any of my opinions. As a journalist who has spent two decades buildling my credibility, I can't afford to take their money. It's just not worth it.
I'm interested in your opinions on this topic...