Boston Globe Article Corrections

Update June 27, 2005: Pete Caputa wrote a related blog entry titled “Bloggers vs Journalists: Agendas.”

A couple weeks ago Pete Caputa introduced me to a reporter who was working on a “getting paid to blog” story for the Boston Globe. Thanks, Pete! (That’s sincere despite my rant throughout the rest of this entry.)

Unfortunately the tidbits about me in the story weren’t accurate. Maybe they were honest mistakes. I’m not sure but I wish I would have had a chance to go over the information with the reporter.

For other bloggers, the compensation can be a windfall. Somerville resident Susan Kaup received $2,100 this winter for writing a dozen times about Marqui — a Portland, Ore., marketing software company — and linking to its website on her blog, Though Marqui disclosed it was paying bloggers, Kaup did not always mention the compensation on her site.

First: It was $2400. $800 times three months = $2400. Windfall?

And second, I did always mention the compensation on my website. I had this icon on my website throughout the program and several weeks afterwards. It said “I get paid to talk about Marqui.” The reason it’s not on my site anymore is because the program is over. At no point during our brief conversation did the reporter ask me if I disclosed my arrangement. She did ask if I ever wrote negative things about Marqui and I said I didn’t think so but searching for “Marqui” on my site would be an easy way to find out. As it turns out, I was critical at least once. I usually included a tidbit about the program in each entry. In hindsight, I think I should have placed that button inside every entry. But her indication that I did not always mention the compensation is misleading.

At least we have our blogs to set the record straight.

While expressing frustration about this to a friend who is excellent at being the voice of reason in curious times, he passed on this humorous link that somehow I had never seen before. For the record, I don’t think all reporters are bad or anything. Robert Weisman was awesome when he wrote the Sunday Boston Globe article about that included the Wi-Fi Meetup that I organize. He spent at least an hour with us in person at the Meetup and exchanged emails with me.

4 replies on “Boston Globe Article Corrections”

I read the story, and I do think the impression left that you didn’t mention the Marqui arrangement was misleading. I remember that you made the arrangement fairly clear often enough that at least any regular reader would be in no doubt.

As a former reporter and editor myself I tend to get defensive about criticism of newspaper stories. I think the entire story was fairly weak in this case, although we can’t tell how much more material the reporter might have included that was cut (one of the things that first attracted me to the web was the idea of putting out writing without it having to fit into a certain space on a page. And from doing editing and page makeup I know how fast and arbitrary the decisions can get.

The main problem I have with stories like this is it makes it sound like the web has created new ethical issues. I think the reality is that it creates different ethical issues.

It is rare indeed to find the newspaper whose content is never influenced by advertisers. Most editors try their best to keep the ad department out of their business. But most newspapers and magazines also feature “advertorial” content that is controller by the advertisers. Insiders know what parts of the paper are advertising produced, but I’m sure many readers don’t.

This topic is one that really needs a little more depth than a short story.

Hey Mark: Thanks very much for the thoughtful response. I think I was pretty stupid for not including the “I get paid to write about Marqui” button in all my entries since they would of course be archived for posterity and Google searches. I inclulded a text disclaimer in most of my entries but not all. Though as you said, there seems to be good reason to be bothered with the article.

j: That’s an interesting tidbit about USWeb and The Globe. I found it rather insulting that they’d compare a blogger (If you can really call him that) in the article getting $5 for one link to a product he didn’t use or disclose getting money for (until after the article when he updated the entry but did not indicate it was an update) is somehow the same as Tiger Wood’s mad cash Nike endorsement deals. I look forward to the day when Nike pays Tiger Wood’s $5 to wear a cap, etc.

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