I see that over at Kiwiblog DPF is hawking an Air New Zealand viral advertisement. Now DPF has had at least one junket from Air NZ and the airline is well known for its gifts to journalists and media outlets (mostly in terms of free flight). Given this situation I’d say the chances are quite good that there is at least some kind of loose arrangement between the company’s PR arm and DPF. The question is whether as an influential NZ internet figure DPF should be disclosing any such arrangement in the same way the media does (or should).
In fact as the blogosphere and bloggers come closer to the mainstream media and as their influence increases then questions about a code of ethics become more pertinent.
At The Standard we use some stock journalistic codes. In particular we do not reveal sources but we also write anonymously, which is traditional in the MSM for some editorial content and wire service news (such as NZPA stories) but not for most title-produced news. While we are providing opinion and commentary and none of us have a pecuniary interest I think that’s okay – the back catalogue of our work combined with the public critical feedback we get in our comments section means our posts are more rigorously debated and have to be more solidly constructed and fact-checked than a lot of MSM opinion pieces.
But what about when we take on advertising? Or when Standard writers such as Clint are given promotional freebies? At the moment we don’t have these concerns but some profile bloggers such as DPF and Russell Brown have already parlayed their web-presence into commercial gain as media figures and through advertising and in the US many bloggers have gone totally pro.
Every month the blogosphere’s influence on the mainstream increases. Perhaps it’s time for a voluntary code of ethics.
Update: I/S has mentioned the deal was that the hosting blog would get paid for every click on the Air NZ ad. DPF has not disclosed this in his post.