Blogger Payoffs

Jillian Bandes
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Posted: Aug 23, 2010 1:10 PM
The story about blogger payoffs in the conservative world is making waves across the interwebs today. In short, bloggers charge extra-heavy advertising rates for select political campaigns, and are either directly or indirectly encouraged to write favorable stories about them. In some cases, direct fees are paid by activists trying to influence a given media outlet.

The Daily Caller claims that Red County's Chip Hanlon quickly showed blogger Aaron Park the door after it came out that he was being paid off by a California campaign. But the Caller also claims that Hanlon was paid off... by a competing campaign.  Hanlon denies the claims, of course, but it just goes to show the varoius shades of gray associated with the new media environment, and the difficulty in drawing clear lines in the sand between editorial and political content at many of these publications.

The convergence of editorial and political interests isn't a good thing, but it also isn't all that bad when there is full disclosure. The problem the difficulty in knowing when full disclosure isn't happening, leading to, as Ed Morrisey explains, decreased "ability of the blogosphere to effect political change in the long run." 

Dealing with these breaches should be handled in the same way other ethical breaches are handled: by full exposure, and a hearing in the court of public opinion. Bloggers need to do their own police work, which is another way of saying they need to do good journalism. When that happens, the cream usually rises to the top.