Blogflict of Interest

BusinessWeek Online has an interesting story about blogger ethics this week: Polluting The Blogosphere (by Jon Fine). The sub-title says “Bloggers are getting paid to push products. Disclosure is optional.”

“You can’t believe anything you see or read,” complains Ted Murphy. “You think those judges on American Idol want to drink those giant glasses of Coke?”
It’s funny to hear him say this because Murphy, who founded a Tampa-based interactive ad agency called MindComet, also runs a side business that pays bloggers to write nice things about corporate sponsors — without unduly worrying about whether or not bloggers disclose these arrangements to readers. (A scan of relevant blog searches strongly suggests that, often, they don’t.)

I don’t have much to say about the story, other than to encourage you to read it. But this seems like a good opportunity for some disclosure from this blogger. So, what are the policies and practices of The Business Ethics Blog as far as corporate remuneration & advertising go?

  • I occasionally get sent free movies to review.
  • My blog entries often include links to books sold by Amazon. Because I run the not-for-profit (or just unprofitable) EthicsWeb Bookstore, I get a small commission from Amazon if someone follows one of those links through to Amazon’s website and buys someting. This helps defray the cost of running my various ethics-related websites.
  • I don’t currently have any advertising on my website, other than a link to the aforementioned EthicsWeb Bookstore. Not because advertising, or money more generally, is evil (which it’s not). It’s just that this website doesn’t get enough traffic to make advertising worthwhile. Plus, I know that advertising makes some people cranky, and I just don’t need the hassle.
  • I receive the occasional press release (from corporations, film distributers, and NGO’s), promoting their wares, innovations, and ideas. So far, the only such messages that have resulted in blog entries were offers of copies of relevant films.
  • So far, no one has offered me any money to promote or discuss anything. Odd, huh? Anyway, if that ever did happen, I wouldn’t promote anything for money without disclosing that that’s what I was doing.

[Thanks to Wayne Norman for the heads up.]

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