Compensation for bloggers and other new media producers. Simply reading that statement will give some a severe case of the shudders. It's dangerous territory as evidenced by the Amanda Marcotte/Melissa McEwan/John Edwards affair and Wal-Mart committing the most egregious example of astroturfing to date.
Where is the line? It's out there but do we really know when we cross it? Sometimes it's fuzzy as in the case of Amanda Marcotte. Sometimes it's quite clear as in the case of Wal-Mart. And sometimes, we haven't even seen it yet as in the case of dealing with the traditional media.
Murray Grevious, MIS Manager for Creative Loafing, recently stopped by to discuss some of the issues facing the cautious courtship between new and old media. This exchange led to further discussion via email resulting in Murray asking me if I would pose a few questions to the new media community of Atlanta.
Ironically, in the simple act of asking, Murray forced me to search for the line myself. By doing free research for a traditional media outlet, would I become their tool? Am I really exploring issues in the new media world or acting as a front for an admittedly quirky but still corporate entity?
In the end, it is a judgment call and I believe the request is honest and forthwright. Part of the evidence being Murray allowing me to attribute the idea for this experiment directly to him. Also, I believe the issues are vital to continuing the conversation begun at Podcamp Atlanta and continued elsewhere. This is a Rubicon we must eventually cross, so let's all start wading together.
Let's not waste time and start with the big ones.
Should a blogger be paid for providing content to a traditional media outlet?
What about managing a traditional media outlet's blog or blogs?
What about commentors? Would it be acceptable for traditional media to provide occasional token of appreciation (movie tickets, gift certificates) to those that regularly keep the conversation going?
At what point is the line crossed and the new media persona is inexorably tangled by the corporate web?
Most importanly, what other dangers lurk? What other concerns should we as the new media have and what dangers do the old media not even see?
Get the conversation going, people! This is one time I guarantee they are listening.