Last week I was interviewed by a Times reporter regarding the new FTC regulations set forth for December 1 regulating that bloggers must disclose free products or any pay-for-play that goes on. The article is published in today’s issue in the Style section as well as online at NYTimes.com.
Following the publishing of this article and the flurry of media attention on the issue recently, this is a good time to address the new regulation and how it pertains to The Daily Obsession.
First of all, I’ll admit that having the government regulate how you do something like posting opinions on your blog, sucks. While we may post a favorable review of a product (because we liked it), we welcome all kinds of public feedback about the item. We are in business because our allegiance lies with our readers and would never compromise our editorial integrity or mislead you for ulterior motives.
Like any other reporter, we do get quite a bit of product samples to test. Personally, on my end about 20% of what I get makes it up on the blog. For someone who has well over 100 tubes of lipstick, getting sent 2 more is hardly incentive to promote them. We’ve sorted through the riff-raff and only report on what we (personally) found obsession-worthy. With that said, if the law wants us to be crystal clear about if we’re reviewing something we’ve received for free, then we are certainly willing to comply with the law and we have had a disclosure in place for over a year on our About page.
What does upset me about the regulation is how it singles out blogs instead of extending the standard across all types of media i.e. magazines, newspapers, TV. There are certainly political reasons for why- but that’s for another place and time. This inherent double standard suggests that bloggers cannot be trusted because we are easily and frequently “bought” whereas the truth is, traditional media has always had much fuzzier relationships with the brands which are featured in their pages. Blogs are, perhaps, the most honest and democratic form of media out there.
The regulation may also insinuate that bloggers might not be legitimate journalists but rather covert shill-machines for companies. While there are endless numbers of blogs out there, I will tell you that some of the most highly trafficked sites are written by professionals with years of industry experience and training. I actually find it quite amusing that every blog which was mentioned in the Times article are actually penned by professional writers. Fashionista has a former WWD editor on staff. Nadine is a former print beauty editor and published author. Amber is senior beauty editor at DailyMakeover. The girls behind BagSnob also come from years of industry experience. And as for TDO, we have on staff three professional writers/editors and a beauty/fashion industry veteran. As a blogger who also writes for a number of magazines, I find it very odd that I have to disclose when I’m writing for one audience and not when I’m writing for another though my relationship with the brand/product has stayed exactly the same.
We blog because we believe in what we’re writing about. We blog because we don’t want to have advertiser relationships control our content. We blog because a lipstick is rich and moisturizing, not because it photographs best next to the other items we’re featuring on a page. So if you’ve ever had doubts about why we blog, let’s put them to rest now.
And now, back to our regular scheduled programming…