Monday, July 13, 2009

Free stuf in exchange for good reviews?

Some of you may have read this article on Kotaku. The gist of it is that the FTC seems to have issues with truth in advertising, but only as it relates to bloggers. Oddly enough, the FTC doesn't seem so concerned with reviewers who write for magazines, newspapers, or TV shows, despite the fact that they likely have larger audiences and are more likely to get free stuff from publishers than the college student with the personal blog given in "Example 7." An example, mind you, that specifically singles out video game bloggers.

I'm not saying that the FTC doesn't have any points with reports, but it does seem unfair to single out independent video game bloggers, or bloggers in general. For starters, where do we get this assumption that the FTC seems to have, that mainstream, professional journalists are any more honest than bloggers? Do we not recall the New York Times running tabloid-worthy stories about John McCain having an affair with lobbyist Vicki Iseman, despite having zero evidence (a story, for the record, that resulted in a defamation case against the paper), while they studiously ignored the evidence of John Edwards actual affair pretty much right up until Edwards came out and admitted it? The elitists in the mainstream media have been pushing agendas on their audience for years under the guise of professional, unbiased journalism. Small wonder that more people trust what they read on the internet more than what they read in the newspaper or see on television news.

What's more, by singling out bloggers versus other forms of media, the FTC is dangerously close to defining what is and is not journalism. At a moment in American history when people are sharply divided already about whether or not the federal government is getting too big and overstepping its authority with things like bailouts and health care, do we really want the government to start regulating personal blogs?

In any case, I'd like to assure all of my readers right now that no one ever gives me free stuff. I certainly wouldn't object to free stuff, but I doubt anyone would figure it's worth it, since maybe 5-10 people read this site regularly. That's why I haven't even bothered with ads. If it seems like I'm giving out too many favorable reviews, that's only because if I'm going to spend my own money, I'm going to try to spend my own money on stuff I like. I actually do enjoy ripping into stuff I don't like, though, and I know my readers really enjoy reading when I rip into something. Even if I did get free stuff, it certainly wouldn't affect how I write reviews, or cause me to suppress negative ones (if anything, I'd write more, since I'd have more stuff to to write about).

As for the journalism thing, well, I simply have too much integrity to be a journalist.

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