In the first article, Product Placement: It’s Everywhere, It’s Everywhere, the author, Gal Beckerman discusses the fact that product placement, while already bombarding us in TV shows and movies, is now making its way into print media. While it is easy to see how a product placement would fit nicely into a magazine feature story, it is hard to believe that newspaper outlets are also buying into the placement. The article quotes a report by PQ Media studying magazine editorial copy, saying, “The study measured all placement of products whether paid for, exchanged in a barter arrangement or included without compensation to the publication.” While it isn’t astonishing to see product placements in magazine editorial copy, isn’t it against a Journalist’s ethics code to write about a product simply because you were paid to do it? What happened to unbiased journalism? I don’t know about you, but if I were to receive a big check simply for mentioning that I’m writing this very blog post on my MacBook, it’s not going to be ethical.
Moving on to the next article: Paid to Pitch; Product Reviews by Bloggers Draw Scrutiny, by Miguel Bustillo and Ann Zimmerman. As a Public Relations student, I’ve learned to be wary of bloggers—to make them my best friend but to beware that they could very easily become my worst enemy. Why is this? Because if I pay them to try out my product, both my organization and product are immediately susceptible to their opinion. And it doesn’t have to be a positive one. So I sure as hell better like my product before putting it out there. From a journalist’s perspective however, I have to question whether paying and pitching a blogger to review my product is ethical. Yes, the Federal Trade Commission proposes that said blogger must disclose that they are being compensated for their review and that they are held liable for misleading claims, and as an article by Kurt Schiller discusses, has revised guidelines for such disclosures. But does that really make it better? And if the blogger admits to being paid, is that review really going to help my product gain a fan base or will readers doubt the truth behind the review because it was paid? These are huge ethical questions that we need to ask ourselves before jumping on the blogosphere wagon.