One of the points I made during my appearance on Full Disclosure yesterday is that all journalists, especially those who try to be "unbiased", should be up front with their connections and biases. Every article and news report should contain a short blurb informing the audience of the journalist's political leanings, at the very least. And the same goes for bloggers.
I don't have any problem with bloggers taking money to write about certain topics, as long as they disclose that they're doing so. I'd be happy to take money myself!
Zephyr Teachout, the former head of Internet outreach for Mr. Dean's campaign, made the disclosure earlier this week in her own Web log, Zonkette. She said "to be very clear, they never committed to supporting Dean for the payment -- but it was very clearly, internally, our goal." The hiring of the consultants was noted in several publications at the time. ...
The two men, who jointly operated a small political consulting firm, said they didn't believe the Dean campaign had been trying to buy their influence. Both men noted that they had promoted Mr. Dean's campaign long before they were hired and continued to do so after their contract with the campaign ended.
Mr. Zuniga said they were paid $3,000 a month for four months and he noted that he had posted a disclosure near the top of his daily blog that he worked for the Dean campaign doing "technical consulting." Mr. Armstrong said he shut down his site when he went to work for the campaign, then resumed posting after his contract ended.
A spokeswoman for Mr. Dean said the two bloggers hired by the campaign did nothing unethical because both disclosed their connection to the Dean operation.
I think the spokewoman is right. The bloggers' readers knew about the connection and the money, so there's no problem. Unfortunately, mainstream journalists and wined and dined -- even if they don't take direct cash payments -- and they never come clean about their biases. Instead they maintain the ridiculous notion that they're unbiased, and despite their best intentions they fail miserably. As would I, as would anyone.