Monday, March 01, 2010

This Blog For Hire!

But first, we'll need $11,000 in the bank.

That money will just about pay the fine levied by the Federal Trade Commission on bloggers who endorse products, at least if the FTC intends to follow its new guidelines.  According to an article by Jack Shafer in Slate, the idea is to crack down on "the growing blog-for-money business."  Unfortunately, the guidelines are hopelessly vague, and could easily result in crippling penalties for your average Joe Sixpack (or, in our case, Joe Case-of-sacramental-port).

The idea is that if a blogger reviews a book, whether the review is good or bad, and if the book was provided free by the publisher, then the blogger is considered to have endorsed a product.  And if the said endorsement isn't labeled clearly enough, the FTC gets a pound of flesh.

Never mind that this is how publishers have gotten their wares into the hands of reviewers for centuries.  Or hasn't the FTC ever been to the Strand Bookstore, and waded through the thousands of half-priced "review copies" of books nobody ever reviewed?

Shafer calls this "a mad power grab," and goes on to say:

Because of a pesky thing called the First Amendment, the guidelines don't apply to news organizations, which receive thousands of free books, CDs, and DVDs each day from media companies hoping for reviews. But if the guidelines don't apply to established media like the New York Review of Books, which also happens to publish reviews on the Web, why should they apply to Joe Blow's blog? Regulating bloggers via the FTC while exempting establishment reporters looks like a back-door means of licensing journalists and policing speech.

Nobody likes deceptive advertising or fishy bloggers. But I'd rather wade through steaming piles of unethical crap on the Web than give the FTC Javertian powers to pursue shady advertorial. This is one of those cases in which the government's solution is 10 times worse than the problem.

We're with him, to be sure.  Free speech is very important to us -- longtime readers may remember a series of posts mocking Britain's libel laws, not to mention our continuing disdain for the Islamicist "don't draw cartoons of our Prophet or accuse us of terrorism or make fun of us or say anything else we don't like" movement.

But you know what?  Shafer and the free-speech absolutists have missed the really important part of this story:  SOME PEOPLE GET STUFF FOR BLOGGING!  And you know what?  We at the Egg really like stuff.  Especially since we now live in Central Europe, where stuff tends to be wildly overpriced, if you can even get it.  Like Shredded Wheat.  Man, do we miss Shredded Wheat.  And the Times crossword puzzle.  And -- well, you get the idea.

So here's our new policy:  You have stuff?  Send it to us, and we'll "review" it for you, in the most glowing terms that are available to us ethically or stylistically.  There are two small caveats:  (1)  we will announce that the stuff was provided free, because, hey, we're not stupid and $11k is a lot of green; and (2) it has to be stuff that we actually care about.

Thus, for example, the manufacturers of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese are cordially invited to keep their phosphorescent goo to themselves (although Mother Anonymous would review it with pleasure, if only she had a blog).  Likewise, the New ALC and WordAlone Network should probably save themselves some postage and handling.  (And do click those links if time permits).

But if you, dear reader, happen to work in the marketing department of Continuum Books, Liturgical Press, Slabbinck, King of Shaves or Fruit of the Loom, give us a call.  Also Victorinox, LA Police Gear, DC Comics or any manufacturer of high-end military watches.  (We're looking at you, Sinn, Orange and Marathon).    But especially Fruit of the Loom, because -- at risk of sharing too much information -- we miss our American undies.


mark said...

Church of Satan & Cletus? Isn't that a metaphorical extreme?

Father said...

I believe it was Horace who said the goal of blogging is both to inform *and* to delight.

Noah said...

I'm just pleased as punch to see that someone else caught that "North American Lutheran Church" in CORE's documents was a typo that actually means "New ALC"

mark said...

I thought he said: "Go west!"