By Dave Struzzi
If you’ve got a blog, the FTC may soon be your biggest fan. That’s because if passed, recently proposed guidelines by the Federal Trade Commission would give the agency unprecedented power to patrol what you write in it.
Of course, these new powers aren’t meant to patrol your daily blog about your newest kitten. Rather, they’re intended to curtail the abuse of “payola” bloggers—those that accept cash and gifts in exchange for writing positively about a company, without disclosing it.
As print media finds itself battling decreasing circulation numbers and online outlets being outpaced by the 24/7 nature of blogs, these blogs have become the go-to destination for millions of people searching for honest advice on their favorite products. But should these blogs be forced to disclose all the freebies they receive? And if so, will people still accept a blog’s advice knowing this?
I believe the changing landscape of online journalism has led to a more mature blog, one that wields more power than ever before. And those that lack full disclosure could potentially alienate their legions of followers. A blog that admits to receiving a product freebie wouldn’t see an effect on readership, but I believe it would receive an increase in reader loyalty. It would also eliminate the many “This blog is in the pocket of Company X” comments that are so rampant.
Blogs have transformed greatly over the past few years. They’ve gone from being younger distant relative to print journalism, to its likely successor. In this way, I believe it must inherit the quality of full disclosure and upfront honesty that enabled print journalism to stay so dominant in the first place.
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