Beware Buying Advice From Bloggers On The Take

As review blogs have emerged, seizing marketshare and mindshare away from traditional publications, it’s become the Wild West out there as far as journalistic ethics are concerned.

The New York Times looks at the common practice of corporations to push positive words about their stuff by handing out free stuff to influential online tastemakers as well as paying them outright. The Federal Trade Commission is looking into throwing down some disclosure regulations to force reviewers to spell out potential under-the-table payola conflicts, the story says:

A draft of the new rules was posted for public comments this year and the staff is to make a formal recommendation to be presented to the commissioners for a vote, perhaps by early fall.

“Consumers have a right to know when they’re being pitched a product,” said Richard Cleland, an assistant director at the Federal Trade Commission.

Cleland goes on to say the regulations will stop short of forcing writers to muddle their reviews with legalese, leaving them to disclose sponsorship issues in their own ways.

When a Blogger Voices Approval, a Sponsor May Be Lurking [New York Times]
(Photo: Captain Semantics)

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