June 30th, 2006
The phenomenon called blogging has now been starkly divided into the pre-PayPerPost era and the post-PayPerPost era. I’m referring to a new service that makes an explicit business model out of what up until now has been an implicit accusation, often leveled without cause. PayPerPost enables companies to pay bloggers to say nice things about them — and as Marshall Kirkpatrick points out (and I share his disbelief):
There does not appear to be any requirement that the payment for coverage be disclosed. There is a requirement that PayPerPost.com must approve your post before you are paid.
Blogging has now been irrevocably tainted. No one can say anything even remotely positive about a company — or negative for that matter — without being accused of being on the PayPerPost payroll.
I encountered this the other day when I made some enthusiastic comments about Jellyfish, a new shopping search engine. I was accused, without cause, of being a “patsy” for Jellyfish.
Now it won’t matter if I say that I have no financial relationship with a company. The taint is there — the question will be ever present — is this what you REALLY think, or have you been bought and sold?
Blogging should have seen this coming. We all scoffed at the rigid, elitist hierarchies of traditional journalistic organizations — but now we know why they are so uptight.
We promoted the hell out of blogging as a revolutionary form of marketing — and now we see the dark side.
But the situation is even worse for blogging because many of us are just individuals with a personal point of view. It’s a lot harder to accuse an institution of being bought and sold, because that involves complicity among many people.
But to accuse me, Scott Karp, is easy.
It’s the Swift-Boating of the blogosphere. Once you’ve been slimed, there’s nothing you can do to shake it off.
All I can think to do, which is what I did when accused the other day, is focus on the analysis and the substance of what I have to say — that should speak for itself.
But even as I write that, I don’t believe it will be enough.
This is a sad, sad day for blogging, for publishing, for journalism, and for the new media revolution.
I realized that I forgot to ask how much BusinessWeek got paid to write the article about PayPerPost so that they could use “As Seen in BusinessWeek” on their site. Was it $1,000 — or $10,000 — or $50,000?
Or perhaps Jon Fine received a personal payment — what was it Jon? Cash? A gold watch? A golfing trip?
Let me be clear — I don’t really think BusinessWeek got paid. My point is — the taint is everywhere.