Media – Ethics? What Ethics? We’re Bloggers!

What’s had bloggers shitting bricks left and right today? The idea that the FTC might force them to disclose any payments or conflicts of interest! Some people feel this is unfair in light of the economy! Some people feel this is unfair in light of how it’s their blog and they can do what they want! In light of all this concern, I have some handy advice for those concerned:

Why don’t you sit down with a nice book of journalism ethics and a cool, tall glass of Shut the Fuck Up, and stop being a complete and total asshole?

Taking money for a review is unethical, period. The entire idea of reviewing a product or service is that you’re offering your reader an objective viewpoint, and there’s no way to be objective over somebody who’s paying you. And let’s not even pretend, people, that the person or persons paying out for a positive review are doing so with no expectations whatsoever. “Why, sure, we’ll give you $50 to review this, even if you use words to sodomize us in every conceiveable orifice.” Companies do not work that way.

No, just like press junkets for movies, where critics you’ve never heard of get to have coffee with celebrities and gets lots of free goodies, or Australian video game critics, who were allegedly offered whores at one point (and no, I’m not joking), if somebody’s paying you, they’re paying you for one thing: praise. How often do you hear about Belkin paying people to post negative reviews on Amazon? Or Yelp ad sales reps threatening restaurants with mediocre reviews? Or self-published authors spamming their Amazon pages with “reviews” that are all over the map?

They want positive reviews, because positive reviews get more customers. The problem is: it’s intentionally misleading. People who go to the websites and see all these positive reviews think it must be a great product, because here are all these people who bought it and loved it. That’s the entire idea, to lie to people about how popular a product is, and probably also its quality. I’ve never had a problem with Belkin, but have you read some of those paid reviews? You’d think the product came packaged with a free orgasm.

Some bloggers have actually had the nerve to say, “Well, I was going to get into it, but I don’t know that I want to mention that I got paid for it…” So, basically, you want to lie. And you’re bitching about how the government is not letting you get away with lying to your readers. Put it to you this way: I once drove around Fenway Park in a Segway for sixteen bucks an hour. There’s not a whole hell of a lot I’m not willing to do for money. And I’m looking down on you. Think about that for a while.

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