There is no doubt that blogging is becoming a major part of business and how business can help themselves grow. Blogging is a great method to spread your message from a personal standpoint and allow your clients or the general public to learn a little more about you as the individual. With that said, there are an ethics to blogging. Recently The Wall Street Journal ran an article that discussed bloggers who were talking up a Spanish internet start-up called FON Technology SL. They courted a wide range of respectable bloggers to talk-up their company in their respective fields, which has since sparked an ethical debate about the validity of one’s blogging.
The issue at hand is why some of these "hired" bloggers disclosed they had a financial stake with the new company and others did not. FON says that these bloggers might be compensated for their work in the future but aren’t being paid at the time. That leaves an ethical gray area for those involved. Technically, they are talking up a good company they think might make an impact within its field. However, if they are under the impression they might be paid for their internet work in the future, morally should they disclose that information?
Bob Steele, an ethics specialist with the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, FL says, "While many bloggers don’t consider themselves journalists, anyone putting information into the public domain about people or companies has certain ethical responsibilities."
A few bloggers involved have taken different approaches. One blogger posted in a previous blog his ties to the FON company but doesn’t disclose it in every blog. Others merely leave the detail out.
The debate is really just getting started on the role of ethics in blogging. Mr. Steele is correct, bloggers are not all journalists, therefore should they be held to the same ethical standards? I tend to think so, especially when their intent is to sell a company these bloggers will benefit from in the future. We’ll continue to monitor the debate here at The Media Backpage.