Home > General Bitching > On the topic of Journalistic integrity

On the topic of Journalistic integrity

I read with interest a post and response here about the issue of bloggers not disclosing personal relationships with designers who they choose to blog.  I have a lot to say on the matter, since I’m both a blogger and a content creator.  I’m going to try and be brief though, because I know it’s not a subject of interest to very many people.

My dear friends and I started SLEXandtheCITY not long before I started my business venture (Duh!).  Neither project had much to do with the other initially and we talked about doing the blog for a very long time before we actually did it (maybe a year or more), where as the store was something almost bordering on a whim that struck one afternoon the day I rented my first store front.  However pretty quickly, it became obvious how useful having a blog with a wide readership is, for a store owner.  I’ve never tried to hide the fact that I own Duh!  And I don’t think I’ve been terribly subtle about promoting my products in my posts.  On occasion, my friends and fellow bloggers have done the same.  Again, I think it’s very clear to anyone who more than casually glances at the blog that we are all friends, and that I own the store.

I did feel a certain obligation to disclose that fact.  To not hide behind say, a blogging alter-ego.  And that is despite the fact that mentioning the store might be perceived by some as trying to “show-off”.   I also generally mention when I am given a review copy of an item, as do the other bloggers here, because it just seems right to disclose that we might have some sort of relationship with the designer in question.  Again, I’m aware that can be perceived as bragging, but I think that’s a good policy, and I intend to continue with it.  I think it’s a good practice, but am I obligated to do so as the blogger suggests?

Here is my take.  No, not really.   The blogger states that because real dollars are exchanged we have an ethical obligation to make sure consumers understand all the potential motivations for our posts.    First of all, all fashion blogging is motivated by personal taste and opinion.   I don’t know a single blogger who claims to routinely blog things they don’t like out of an attempt to be “fair”.   We all seek out things we like, to feature on our blogs.  And realistically, your relationship with a content producer is likely to influence whether you like their products.  I’m hard pressed to imagine a blog reader so naïve they don’t realize and expect that.  

Secondly, the blogging community in SL does not, to my knowledge, make any claims about being an unbiased source of information.  We are not the “Consumer Reports” for SL purchasers.  Some bloggers do, on occasion, try to point out product quality issues, but mostly, we just blog what we like.  We function much more like an advertisement than an unbiased information clearing house.  We intend to bring things to the reader’s attention that they might not otherwise have known about.   You are still pretty much on your own to scan the descriptions and photos and determine if the products featured really are worth your Linden and effort.  I’ve never heard anyone before this blogger suggest otherwise.

Lastly, I really want to emphasize that the interrelationships the blogger describes in that post, and seems aghast at, are quite normal and COMMON in my personal experience with SL fashion.  Those relationships, between fellow content creators, and between content creators and bloggers, develop very naturally and organically.  There’s no conspiracy to defraud.  We are people with a lot of common interests… in Virtual Reality first and foremost, in the creation of word and art, and lastly, in the Second Life Fashion Industry.  Obviously, friendships arise out of association with people with whom you have much in common.  These relationships aren’t sought out in an attempt to bolster our “businesses”.   They are a very natural consequence of coming in contact with people with whom you have a profound mutual interest.

All that having been said, I have a lot of faith in the readership of the SL blogging community to police this situation adequately.  A blogger who routinely features unappealing, low quality clothing with ulterior motives is unlikely to be read for very long.  I think every good blogger realizes that the greatest tool they possess for gaining and retaining readers is their reputation for accuracy and honesty.  And I’ve been very impressed that by and large, this community does an excellent job of upholding those standards.

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Categories: General Bitching
  1. Perion Leominster
    July 24, 2009 at 6:40 pm

    After I picked my eyes up off the floor from rolling them so hard, they unfortunately focused on this line:

    [22:14] Titian Macbeth: I pay for 80-90% of what I blog

    Congrats. I easily pay for 99.8% of the stuff I blog, the other .2% being gifts from Duh! and the occasional jewelry freebie I see in my travels.

    Renee will be the first to tell you the ONLY reason her creations are included in my posts are because they are fitting for the outfit I’m wearing and because I believe they are well made. Not once has she suggested I promote her wares.

    So have a cookie, Titian, for buying shit in SL. Have two; they’re small. FFS.

    For the record, I refuse to accept review copies of anything from anyone and the closest “SLebrity” I have on my Friends List, other than Renee, is Krissy Muggleston, who is a customer service rep for The Loft, who I *never* blog.

    Perhaps I’ll help myself to a cookie, too. /smug

  2. July 24, 2009 at 8:31 pm

    Hi there — I read “the other post” so that I would have a feeling of what came before and honestly the only thought I had was, “who cares”?

    Blogging IS personal AND biased. Presumably we blog what we like, or at least what we recognize as well made and worthy design — goods that we believe our readers will like.

    Unlike Perion, I don’t buy. Well, dollarbies and now and then an accessory. So virtually ALL of the items on my blog are either free for everyone or free to me.

    Does that mean I blog everything I am given as a review copy? Of course not. Does it mean I blog items I feel are less than great quality? No. Any blogger that continuously features items that their readers find disappointing will soon be writing only for themselves.

    I started as a freebie blogger and luckily over time have moved into a more mainstream category. I continue to blog the best of the freebies and I ABSOLUTELY agree that Perion’s decision not to accept review copies is a valid one. I know lots of folks who agree.

    It doesn’t really matter if you blog only review and freebies, only things you have purchased or a mix. What matters is what you choose to show and how you present it. We have smart consumers out there. It doesn’t take them long to figure out who they want to trust and who they should simply avoid.

    And BTW I LOVE my Duh! clogs and feature them often *wink*. Best value out there in fatpacks IMHO — LOL. Thanks so much. [Disclosure: Duh! clogs were a Blogger Appreciation Week gift – :D] HOHO. This was an unsolicited recommendation. I don’t know Renee :D.

  3. Renee Harvy
    July 25, 2009 at 12:15 am

    Thanks Chicaeon 🙂 And lawl at your “full disclosure” I wanted to comment on that too, that I send review copies out to bloggers myself, and have no expectation, or even desire, that they will be blogged unless the reviewer likes them. But my post was long winded enough :p

  4. OMGWTF Barbecue
    July 25, 2009 at 3:11 am

    thanks for the great post, Renee. i agree with you whole-heartedly. very well said.

  5. belochkashostakovich
    July 25, 2009 at 3:14 am

    Thank you Renee, I too read ‘that’ post and wished I could respond as thoughtfully as you’ve written here.

    The interrelationships part is totally correct. Awhile before I took up fashion blogging I had met and got to know a few creators. They were partly my inspiration to try blogging. Now that I’ve moved into content creation they’re still friends and still an inspiration. There was no deliberate agenda or grand marketing scheme about it, just a natural progression to show what people *might* enjoy because I did.

    Friends help friends; it’s hard to see as conspiracy what comes naturally and from a willingness to give time and energy to someone you like and admire.

    A final, related note, would be that as lovely as having your work blogged can be it doesn’t equal instant mass sales or critical approval either. People still have their own taste and judgement. No matter who your friends are. 🙂

  6. Renee Harvy
    July 25, 2009 at 11:09 am

    Thank you 🙂 And yes, absolutely. Blogging a product is not a magic panacea that fixes any problems. If the product is unappealing or inferior in some way, all the blogging in the world isn’t going to translate to sales.

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