I first started to blog in 2002. Since my main purpose in putting finger to keyboard was to provide advice for people interested in self defense issues, I quickly came to the realization that accepting advertising might just bring my integrity into question. If I endorsed a product or training course that also had an ad on my blog, why wouldn’t someone simply assume that I was more interested in the health of my bank account than the health of my students?
This really hasn’t been an issue, though. I have never enjoyed enough traffic where ad revenue would be significant. Still, a few people have made offers over the years for me to join various ad networks. My policy has always been to either politely decline, or simply ignore the offer.
I heard of an interesting inversion of this situation over at The Volokh Conspiracy. It seems that the authors of some Liberal blogs are becoming furious with elements of the Democratic Party. The complaint is that the Dems demand free publicity from the blogs, while avoiding any sort of quid pro quo by paying for an ad.
It seems obvious to me why the Democrats do this.
First off, most Liberal blogs can be said to be hopelessly partisan, if not outright savage, in their treatment of Conservatives. The people who leave comments are just like the authors in their political views, and are usually even more angry. You aren’t going to find too many people on the fence in such an echo chamber
So why should the Dems bother to pay in order to present their side? Everyone involved in the Liberal blogs, from the authors of the posts to the readers who visit every day, are already fellow travelers. It would be a waste of money.
The second reason is due to the view that Beltway insiders have of blogs. They consider them strictly amateur hour, good only to motivate the base every so often in order to give a patina of grass roots legitimacy to certain issues. Get the bloggers to bloviate about something, and the result is a few hundred (or a few thousand) Emails.
That might be enough to put pressure on someone to change their vote, but it really doesn’t bring anything substantial to the table. For that you need lobbyists, and they demand to be paid.
A third reason why the Democratic Party might not be interested could be because they figure they are already giving the bloggers something. By allowing the blogs to be part of their political strategy, to include them in the process, they are granting them legitimacy. The result is more readers for the blogs who play ball with the Dems, since the readers are looking for the inside scoop.
So both sides are talking past each other. The bloggers think they should have some kind of financial reward for publicizing the Liberal agenda, and the Democrats think the blogs are being rewarded already when they are allowed to participate in the process.
So where does integrity come into all this?
The answer is that it doesn’t. Both the professional Democratic political machine and the Liberal bloggers have thrown that out of the window.