The backlash and naming calling over Scoble’s declaration that bloggers who run AdSense are “employees of Google,” is understandable (it was a stupid thing to say), but this is an age-old issue in media — how do media companies avoid appearing that they’re “in the pocket” of advertisers?
Concerns that advertisers — who keep the lights on at most media companies — would unduly influence the “objectivity” of journalists lead to the creation of a “Chinese wall” between the editorial and business sides of the operation.
I’m sure that few bloggers have given any thought to whether they need a “Chinese wall,” but as with the “FON scandal,” bloggers are discovering it’s not so easy to be the un-media. Old Media may be unhip, but we bloggers should think twice before we dismiss the wisdom that comes from decades (even centuries) of experience.
Sure you don’t “work” for Google if you run AdSense on your site, but being defensive is not the way to appear above board. Instead of ripping Scoble to shreds (and sure, that’s fun), bloggers should be engaging in a serious conversation about conflicts of interest.
Since most bloggers run both the editorial and business sides of their blogs, a “Chinese wall” is a bit of a (psychological) challenge. And I’m not suggesting we have to disclose our (paltry) AdSense earnings every time we post about Google. But how we react to Scobleizing and other such provocation will go a long way to demonstrating whether bloging is indeed a “mature” medium.