Big Bad Blogger, Blogging Ethics and Full Disclosure
The article's about a restaurant owner Georgia, a certain PR firm and the "influential" yet unethical blogger aptly named Big Bad Blogger. The article says:
"Big Bad Blogger ate at her restaurant. He smiled, ate like a regular blogger, took pictures with his ginormous SLR, and paid for his meal. He wrote a raving review about the restaurant. She thought it was a sincere review.
However, a few days after THAT, The Firm called Georgia again. “Have you seen Big Bad Blogger’s post?” they asked. Of course she had. “He works with us. We have an arrangement with him. We can make sure that more bloggers write about your restaurant the same way if you hire us.”
How much? Georgia asked. The price demanded: P120,000 a month for a year. “What?!” Georgia thought. “These guys are crazy.” And again she gently declined. They lowered the offer to P80,000. (That’s P80,000 per month x 12 months or P960,000; almost a million bucks.) Georgia still declined.
Cut to a year later when Georgia opened another restaurant. Big Bad Blogger visits. Again, he smiled, ate like a regular blogger, took pictures with his ginormous SLR, and paid for his meal. This time, though, he wrote a scathing review. A few days after that, The Firm called Georgia again. “Have you seen Big Bad Blogger’s post?” they asked. Of course she had. “He works with us. We can make sure he retracts his comments and clarifies that your restaurant is not bad but really good after all.” For the same price."
If we're to read the whole story, The Firm may or may not have hidden affiliations with Big Bad Blogger but it's also an open secret that mainstream media, like other bloggers, receive payola, freebies or any form of payment for a feature or review (if you don't believe it, you may be living in Mars). What's so gross from the article though is the extortion part.
Isn't it obvious to you readers that even mainstream media like food writers, travel and lifestyle get special favors, freebies or paid in cash or in kind just to feature a new restaurant, establishment? Travel writers get invited to a hotel, resort or destination for free? Of course, the story will always come out positive or neutral at worst, the Filipino trait of utang na loob plus the lack of "element of surprise" for the establishment and anonymity for the reviewer. For a review to be really be effective requires multiple visits, unannounced and anonymous, for a single visit that turned out bad may be the exception.
Bloggers can't bring down a really good restaurant for not all people read blogs, and those who read blogs don't really believe everything unless they have no mind of their own. Even if Big Bad Blogger writes scathing remarks, his reputation is at stake when other bloggers find out it's the other way around. (but who trusts Big Bad Blogger anyway? A few names were floated on the identity of Big Bad Blogger, the most famous one, however, is not really trusted by Tutubi). Reading posts of some bloggers is akin to inducing a bit of high-blood-pressure-inducing substance --take it with a grain of salt!
Tutubi's for full disclosure of blog posts, yeah, it can't be mandated since this is a free country. It's not really bad to get free invites, and other freebies but, please, disclose them and don't make your post look like it's unsolicited. There are a few bloggers out there who still maintain independence, ethics and dignity either through full disclosure or no freebies at all.
Tutubi is not a celebrity blogger nor aspires to be one (heck, he doesn't even want to publish his real name and picture here), but for the record, Tutubi is not affiliated with anyone related to travel or any restaurants occasionally featured on this blog. He's able to travel mostly using personal funds and official trips of his day job that takes him to many places (he's an engineer working in the banking industry and gets to visit mostly rural banks and cooperatives in faraway places of the archipelago). It's those sidetrip adventures, after finishing his official work duties, that you always read on this blog. He's not working for the Department of Tourism (DOT), which is actually his favorite whipping boy due to laziness and lack of brain power of most people there.
This blog may not give you the best stories and pictures but there really are no paid advertorials, no sponsored posts, no free meals/trips, freebies of any kind, just honest reviews and feedbacks unbiased and as independent as you can get...there are only ads to help him defray the costs of travel and buy some personal gears!
posted by backpacking philippines @ 8:08 PM,
- At Jan 28, 2011, 11:57:00 PM, said...
the lesson of the article is not the BBB, its the disclosure and the blogging industry in general and the local businesses reliance on them...
even if the author releases a name, it doesnt mean others will suddenly be more honest, the blog industry has to police itself. not go on witch hunts.
hippocrates is the right word
- At Jan 29, 2011, 9:26:00 AM, backpacking philippines said...
anonymous, yes, as I stated above, i'm for full disclosure. maybe you mean hypocrites is the right word, not Hippocrates, the ancient greek physician :P
- At Feb 2, 2011, 9:39:00 AM, Cheap flights philippines said...
I didn't realize that some agencies would do that. Paid blogging is already a given, and it is really up to the readers how they do their research on any given place. BBB and that extortionist agency should be identified and thought a lesson.
- At Jul 6, 2011, 9:06:00 PM, besttravel said...
thank you for information...
- At Nov 10, 2011, 2:35:00 PM, Trekking in Nepal said...
Really cool post, highly informative and professionally written..Good Job