The Time’s Week in Review section had a piece on the fallout from the “viral” marketing campaign to pay local bloggers to promote Absolut’s new Brooklyn brand of vodka. In case you missed it (and you probably did), the whole thing spilled over after the latest Brooklyn Blogfest, when some people took exception to the lack of transparency on the part of the Blogfest’s organizers and local blogs that were shilling for Absolut. This isn’t about the Blogfest itself – clearly that was an above-board sponsorship arrangement, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
There’s also nothing wrong with bloggers getting swag to promote a product. Just tell us. If you’re getting something for promoting a product, let your readers know. It’s that simple.
And while I’m on the subject on blogger ethics (a favorite topic of professional journalists, it seems), if a blogger cuts and pastes an article without crediting the original publication, that’s plagiarism. If a reporter doesn’t give credit for a lead dug up by a blog, that’s poaching. If your publication has “a policy” of not crediting blogs or not crediting stories that have been “independently verified”, you work for a sleazy publication. It’s that simple.