Okay, take that gift. But let the world know you did.
What is a bribe, what is a gift and what is doing a friend a favour? What is acceptable to accept from people who might want to influence your blogging?
A post by Media Culpa’s Hans Kullin makes it perfectly clear that bloggers are not journalists: Swedish bloggers can be bought for a lottery ticket
The story is that a site selling underwear has asked a number of Swedish bloggers to link to it, in return for a Triss lottery ticket (worth around 3 dollars). Lo and behold, many of them did. Hans Kullin ponders:
I can see that bloggers might be tempted to earn a quick buck by simply posting a link on their blog and as long as they are candid about the circumstances, there’s no real problem, right? A little surprising is when people who are in an official position, like being a member of the local council, allow their blog to become a marketing channel for underwear. But that’s their choice. What is more difficult to digest is when the payback part of the deal is not disclosed or when bloggers simply lie about the whole arrangement.
No, bloggers are not journalists. They would never be bought… that cheap. ;-)
In the States, though, it’s not about lottery tickets. No, the blogger ethics issue is on a whole new level. I guess it’s been hard to miss the debate around Microsoft/Edelman sending out brand new state of the art Acer “Ferrari” laptops, with Microsoft Vista installed, to bloggers, “no strings attached”. The US blogosphere is divided on this issue. While some think it’s great that bloggers finally get some recognition for their hard work, others say the can no longer trust the bloggers who received these laptops. In the end, it looks like the whole thing turned for Microsoft. Lots of bad pr.
The key issue for bloggers is disclosure. The lesson learnt is this: if you receive something for free because you are a blogger, write about it straight away in your blog.
And, I’d like to add, consider the possibility of returning the gift if you have a gut feeling it’s not right and that it might cloud your judgement or that the suspicion might arise that your judgement has been clouded.
Just a piece of friendly advice.