I occasionally get unsolicited emails from people wanting to advertise on Birds & Bills. The site doesn't accept advertising, so while these emails are fruitless, they're generally slight mood-lifters -- it's reassuring to find out the site is on the radar and people read it, despite my woefully sporadic update schedule.
This week, though, I got an unsolicited pitch that had me reaching for the big spiky GRR bat. It's from a website called www.AboutYourMoney.co.uk. Let me let them speak for themselves.
We are currently seeking to put "sponsored reviews" of our website on the best financial blogs out there. We absolutely loved your blog so we wondered if we could write a feature review for it?
We would be doing the writing of course, so all you need to do is post it and get paid!
We'll pay you $65 for the privilege (paid by Paypal, straight after the blog post is up). This is dependent on the condition that the blog is not identified as a paid for review on your blog. We do not want you to disclose that in any way.
Blogs are not (generally; there are exceptions) journalism. Blogs are not and probably should not be held to the same standard as journalistic reports penned by staff writers. To my mind, they're more akin to piece written by topical freelancers, where conflicts-of-interest run rampant and all you can do is rely on everyone involved to exercise good judgment and be transparent about anything that should be disclosed.
But there is still a line between gray areas and straight-up unethical behavior. Undisclosed, paid commercial content masquerading as unbiased commentary is flat-out and unequivocally on the wrong side of it. Sadly, I see a few bloggers have taken the $65 bait. I'm putting this up in hopes it'll be found by anyone who comes across a post about
www.AboutYourMoney.co.uk and goes looking for info. Reputable sites don't need to resort to this kind of trickery.
(I might need to make GRR awards a tag. I see I have handed them out before.)