Pioneers of every form of objective media have had to decide whether to invite commercialization to the picture or not. TV, radio, newspaper, magazine, etc. have all had to decide whether the media would be sustained by contributions from supporters (viewers, readers, government, etc.) or by sponsorship. Historically, when a new form of media has been first introduced, it is usually funded through contributions. However, though there are a few tv and radio channels that are still supported by donations, mostly every form of media enjoyed by the public today is sustained by sponsors. Many believe that the commercialization of blogs through “blog inclusions” will mean the end of unbiased content on the internet. Not true. Bloggers will have to play by the rule that every other form of media has if they want to succeed. It is a three-word rule: discern or disclose. If they don’t abide by this rule, they won’t retain their readers. Watching television, it’s easy to tell between the entertainment (shows), and the sponsors (commercials).
The same goes for radio. However, in newspaper, magazines, and the internet, it is different. You can’t always discern between what’s objective and what has a hidden agenda. I really like Google’s approach. When I do a search, it is very easy to discern between the sponsored links (that sustain Google) and the natural results. Could blogs do something similar? Of course. Why not? Up to this point, bloggers have held true to the rule. When bloggers adverstise through text ads, the ads are typically easy to discern from the regular text of the blog. And when an author receives money to write about a product, service or company, the relationship is disclosed. Now, if bloggers are paid to write a favorable article and do not disclose the relationship, the three-word rule is violated and consumers are deceived. Unless controls are in place, this will be inevitable. Regardless, if a blog consistantly writes unobjective articles, they will lose creditbility — just like when journalists in other forms of media aren’t objective. They lose their viewers, readers, etc. and they fail.
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