Jan 25, 2010

Bloggers and the corporate muddle

Whether one agrees with premise that journalism should be objective, or at least impartial, I doubt many would disagree that it should be free of corporate sponsorship. That is the realm of PR, and we wouldn't want to bigfoot.

Which is the reason I get queasy when Internet triumphalists push citizen journalism as the journalism 2.o. Tale a look at this description of a 2009 BlogHer convention in Chicago, where mommy citizen journalists got a chance to meet their biggest fans:
"Mommy bloggers were in the majority, and marketers such as GM, Walmart, Nikon, PepsiCo and Suave were pulling all the stops to woo us," reported Mile High editor Amber Johnson on her own blog. "Many women were gracious and grateful; others were not. One woman even allegedly threatened to blackmail a Crocs rep when he ran out of free shoes."
As stomach turning as the episode is from a journalist's standpoint, it's important to remember that blogging is not de facto journalism. ("Journalism" itself has a hazy and evolving definition.) Neither should this incident make us dismiss journalism done by people not on someone's payroll. But at some point, the case has to be made that if we don't define some standards for the new journalism and get the public to pay for it, then corporations will fill the void and it will be them dominating the discussion one product placement at a time.

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