Bill picks up on my post about bloggers whoring themselves out to the publishers for free books and other products. First of all, the price is quite small, EA once sent my brother to San Francisco for the launch of Battlefield 2 and game home with a bag full of schwag and more free games than he knew what to do with (his really cool older brother took some off his hands) so he could cover it for a gaming site.
Bill brings up the idea that we are doing this for free and heâ€™s right but what struck me is the damage we do to our own reputations when we allow ourselves to be bought off by free products. Itâ€™s one of the reasons why I posted a disclosure statement as part of my weblog. It letâ€™s people know where I am coming from and why I do what I do. It also allows me to communicate my associations and conflicts of interest. One of the nice things about TheOoze Viral Blogger and Book Sneeze buttons is that it allows me to see right away that the writer has sold out.
This isnâ€™t the same for all of you but there is a price to be paid for being independent, for the views you have being your views and for your voice being your voice. Itâ€™s also why journalists (should) never accept free gifts, trips, or anything else that influences their stories or coverage of events. You can see it the coverage of Tiger Woods by the golf media. Many of them knew something was up but because their livelihood was linked to access to Tiger, they never ran with it. It was the National Enquirer that broke the story because their bottom line wasnâ€™t dependent at all on Tigerâ€™s career (sadly though it was by his sex life).
Of course many church bloggers gave up that independence years ago (twice this week friends said to me â€œI agree with theologically but I donâ€™t dare say that in my churchâ€) as it is part of many of your spiritual journeys. By prescribing to church doctrine and practices you donâ€™t agree with in exchange for a paycheck probably makes giving favorable reviews for free books quite palatable.
The other thing is that with most credible news organizations not run by Rupert Murdoch, there is a large degree of journalistic independence that is completely separate from the business side of the organization. With bloggers there are not normally is not a wall between your editorial and marketing sides (which is why Google, The Deck, and Federated Media help).
If you are reading this, you know I am not a journalist. This site has the reach of a fraction of what even a small daily paper does. At the same time you mean something to me. Much to the detriment of my savings account, my independence means something to me. I donâ€™t know how to measure how much you mean to me but you mean enough that I wonâ€™t be bought with free stuff here. There is no pay to play. Itâ€™s the same reason why I donâ€™t have advertising here. If that changes, I promise you, you will be the first to know.