- Posted by Johanna on October 6, 2009 at 2:27 pm
- Category: LinkBlogging
Following up on yesterday’s post about the FTC telling bloggers to disclose when they’ve received comp or review copies. In all this discussion, several points (as I see them) have been overlooked:
1. Readers, when made aware of the situation, want to know if a reviewer got something for free, especially when it comes to a recommendation as to how the reader spend her money. Based on this one comment, public relations folks want the reviewer to be honest as well.
2. It’s the good folks, the trustworthy ones, who are up in arms about the perceived double standard (since disclosure rules don’t apply to traditional media: print, TV, etc.). That ignores just how much abuse there was going on, in terms of lots and lots of freebies, adding up to serious money, that wasn’t being revealed. If someone got a free trip to Disneyland and then wrote about what a great place it was to take your family on vacation without saying they didn’t pay, I’d find that unethical. (Since I’m getting ready to take a Disney World trip, I’ve been using sources that are clear about spending their own money to research their books and websites. Which gets back to point one.) If the blogverse didn’t have such bad apples in some corners, this wouldn’t have been necessary. It’s very unfortunate that the good ones are the ones most upset by this, because the unethical won’t pay attention to it anyway.
3. It is a double standard, and I fully support all media being required to reveal free gifts and comps. But that’s unlikely to happen, because the more traditional media is older and has more pull in making the rules.
4. Not all bloggers object to this. In the NY Times article, a mommy blogger says:
“I think that bloggers definitely need to be held accountable,” said Ms. Young. “I think there is a certain level of trust that bloggers have with readers, and readers deserve to know the whole truth.”
Although she also said that “if she doesn’t like a product, she simply won’t write about it,” so she’s not looking to get off the gravy train, either.
Some have raised the spectre of paying tax on review copies and Amazon link revenue. Small businesses, which include blogs and websites as soon as the owner demonstrates a profit motive, should already be paying tax on income from advertising and Amazon payments. I look forward to seeing official guidelines, if released, on how to treat review copies, although I think they most likely fall under “gifts”, not income. (Disclaimer: I am not an accountant.)
While I’m quoting, if you’re looking for an example of why some people find review copy revelations obnoxious, check out Chris Butcher’s post. And it worked — I’m jealous he’s got a copy of What a Wonderful World and I don’t. (I’m teasing him, of course. Because I’m flattered he linked back to me.)