Monday, October 5, 2009

Editor's Note: FTC Ruling on "Paid" Bloggers

I just read an article in the New York Times that stated that the FTC is asking bloggers to disclose payments on "freebies" if we receive them or we can be fined. This follows up on a firestorm that started back in June of this year when word of crackdowns on blogger endorsements and excessive swag started and fingers started pointing. Since this note came out today, I thought it was time to say something about the matter. An excerpt from the new FTC document is stated below:

"The revised Guides also add new examples to illustrate the long standing principle that 'material connections' (sometimes payments or free products) between advertisers and endorsers--connections that consumers would not expect--must be disclosed. These examples address what constitutes an endorsement when the message is conveyed by bloggers or other 'word-of-mouth' marketers. The revised Guides specify that while decisions will be reached on a case-by-case basis, the post of a blogger who receives cash or in-kind payment to review a product is considered an endorsement. Thus, bloggers who make an endorsement must disclose the material connections they share with the seller of the product or service."

Evidently, according to CNET, the crackdown will also start extend to celebrity endorsements, which should ostensibly stop silent endorsements or gushing about how much a famous person loves something only to find out that they're being paid to do this.

Let me state for the record that I and many of my counterparts in online publishing (and blogs are online publications, for the record) contrary to popular belief are not in this for free products. There is no pay for play on this site or any of the other blogs you have seen promoted on Fashion.Style.Beauty. I receive products to test. If I don't like them, I don't write about them and many of us behave the same way. Let me state that again: this site is 100% editorial. No one is giving me kickbacks or paying me with ANYTHING to write about ANY of the content on this blog. If you read about it here, I want you to know about it and not because someone is giving me some kind of kickback. Advertisements on this site are plainly marked as such and are displayed on the outer borders of the page. Fashion.Style.Beauty is MY opinion and based on MY experiences and there are many of my online counterparts who can very easily report the same thing. No one owns or dictates the content on this site. I do.

Furthermore, I have no issues with complying with any and all regulations but don't just single out online publications - ALL publications must be held to this standard. Any and all of us should be able to clearly state to you what is editorial and what is paid advertising. Print publications attend the same events and are privy to the same "sweeteners."

I look forward to seeing how this will play out across all media, but speaking for those of us who take these things seriously and are ethical in the reporting of our content and products, I work very hard to bring my readers clearly-marked, editorial, unbiased content and I'm feel it necessary to give rebuttal to insinuations about my conduct or that of my hard-working compatriots who don't deserve it.

Now, back to the business of fashion, style and beauty.


JP said...

This, while I personally follow it, frustrates the life out of me. What about magazine writers? Television?

Why does "swag" even exist? This is ridiculous.


Kristin Booker said...

Agreed, JP. Thanks for the comment!

Karen E. Duncan said...

Thanks for sharing your opinion on this matter. I agree 100% and feel that bloggers are being targeted unfairly. Beauty editors at magazines get free samples of products as well to test/try. And I've never gotten a dime of cash to review any products. Ridiculous!

I ReTwitted your post on Twitter.

Karen (aka MakUpDiva)

Mama Fashionista said...

I wholeheartedly agree. I'm new to blogging but I know that whatever I talk about will be genuine and because it is something I personally am a fan of. I can not be bought with product. But to differentiate bloggers from other media/journalist venues just goes to show the ignorance of the people behind these new stipulations. It's discriminatory at the least. There should not be separate standards for "professional" journalists.

Ashley said...

Amen!! To everything you said in this post!

Krystal Grant said...

I absolutely agree. Thank you so much for this post!

Elan at The Stash said...

very very very well said. send that in as a letter to the editor at nytimes immediately.

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