Blogging could disappear as quickly as it has risenNovember 18, 2009
When something comes along and breathes life into a staid industry, but has not had time to establish deep roots, we should be careful to preserve it.
Blogging has challenged the media. Every week, bloggers rail against sloppy journalism. For perhaps the first time, there is a democratic and immediate response to any weak-minded argument that makes it onto the pages of a newspaper. It’s David and Goliath stuff, and its refreshing.
Nobody knows how the relationship between blogs and media will develop. So far, it seems bloggers are becoming more skilled and better resourced, potentially challenging journalists. Meanwhile, most journalists I know are being asked to blog as well as write (or, from their perspective, being forced to write more for the same money!).
But the critical difference is that bloggers have not been confined by commercial interests from calling things the way they see them. This is liberating, and is something the mainstream media, with its vested interests, can never hope to compete with entirely.
Which is why its disappointing that it appears blogging is becoming tarnished by a lack of transparency.
In a nice post last weekend, Laurence Borel asked the question – should bloggers be paid to write blog posts? It’s a multi-layered question. Firstly – why not? Good bloggers should be paid, just like good online media should be paid-for.
But the big question is about transparency and the flow of money. The money should flow from the consumers of the blog, rather than from brand owners or companies. Otherwise it reduces blogging to advertising – undisclosed advertising. This would be no more acceptable than if an ‘expert’ sold you a mortgage without telling you they were paid to sell you that particular one. Transparency is the big issue.
We should value the independence of bloggers. Sadly, the credibility of all bloggers will be damaged if there is a perception that they are taking money from the brand owners and companies they blog about. This is why it’s so important that we don’t allow this practice to take hold.
And why it’s so depressing to see that the majority of PR people in the UK have got this one wrong in a PR Week poll. The emergence of social media presents an enormous opportunity for the communications industry. There has never been such demand for watertight strategy and precise implementation of complex and increasingly targeted communications campaigns.
The PR industry should be nurturing social media, not trampling all over it. Under pressure from the media on the one hand and encroaching regulatory scrutiny on the other, blogging is fragile enough. Let the PR industry take a lead in setting out best practice.