I have been in business for over 30 years and in that time I have met the entire range of “business people”. Many I would happily trust in all matters, but sadly there are also too many that I would put in the “dodgy” category. Unfortunately the deregulated nature of the internet makes it harder to determine the good guys from the bad. One area in particular that incenses me is the area of “remunerated blogging”.
I love the idea that on the internet, anyone can easily publish their opinion and invite comment. Interesting bloggers and tweeters can build up a significant following that sometimes exceeds that of the established press. So far, so good. The problems can come when bloggers seek to “monetize” their followers. It is fine if you put a bit of Google advertising on your page, or offer an enhanced subscription service. Readers can tell the difference. Sadly though some bloggers write opinion pieces about a certain product in order to be rewarded by the producer in some way, and without telling the reader about the financial connection. Such behaviour is rightly not allowed in print media. However on the internet it is a veritable industry – “affiliate marketing”.
The answer is simple. If people want to blog for reward, they should just make sure the reader knows whether they are reading an opinion piece or what is, in effect, a paid advert.
That is why on this site any blog will only be tagged with “opinion” when we have no financial interest in the matter, and will be tagged “connected” when we have a direct financial interest in the subject being written about. That is the only ethical way to blog.