Thursday, October 08, 2009

Full Disclosure: Blogging and Shilling

It most likely did not make a blip on your radar, but apparently the FTC is asking bloggers to report when and if the items they are reviewing are free, if they've paid to receive and review the item, etc...

Read more here for clarity or here.

We might as well take this opportunity to set some house rules for reviews/ criticism, free content and how we plan to handle this at League of Melbotis.

In short, my policy isn't going to change aside from me adding boilerplate. And I'll get to why momentarily.

1) League of Melbotis will accept review copies of comics, movies, etc...
2) We will not accept payment from the producer or marketing company of the item being reviewed. This includes financial incentives, unrelated giveaways, etc...
3) If a physical copy of any media is received, we will alert readers if we seek to divest ourselves of the review copy. We may keep items at our discretion. bear in mind, sending you a copy costs us something.
4) From this point forward, we will note when and if the item received in a review came through any means but our own pocket. We will note format, etc...
5) If we just watched, bought, paid for an item ourselves, without a review copy, we will not make mention, as this is literally 99.5% of the reviews, mentions, etc... we're currently doing. So, seriously, guys. Unclench.
6) Were something really wild to happen that were to change the status of LoM as a free website being run with absolutely no moneymaking capacity and as a complete waste of all of our time and energy, I will be the first to at least acknowledge a change of status as the big dollars start rolling in and I forget all of you people (sorry, Randy. As soon as the big bucks roll in, I'm replacing you with Fred Savage.). But, really... 6 years in, I'm pretty realistic about this blogging business. It's in no way lucrative, and its not even really a good idea for a grown man to do anymore.


What gives the timing of the FTC's decision an interesting twist is that LoM was, just this week, added to become "press" according to a rising star comic publisher. This means I am to receive electronic copies of this company's comics.

Being no dummy, and knowing how some of you like to freak out about this sort of thing (JimD), I had planned to mention the slight change in status prior to any reviews down this pathway, as you would notice a certain spike in my reading and reviewing. Now, I'm not just ethically obligated to make mention, but legally as well. And I have enough legal problems, anyway (smuggling illegal parrots into the US in your baggy cargo pants turns out to be more toruble than one would guess).

Rest assured: They are not plying me with money and women at this time (yet).

A while back I was receiving copies of DVD's for review from a marketing company, and was charged by several Leaguers (joking or not) that I was now a shill. I good naturedly put up with your baseless whining, and I think the matter resolved itself once we reached the "Speed Racer" incident which ended that particular gravy train.

But, yes, it does not take a genius of marketing to figure out I might view and enjoy a Justice League DVD, and write about it on my blog. And, if you recall, I gave away my copy of the DVD.

I should also point out that its standard practice for media companies to send review copies of movies, books, etc... to professional reviewers. While LoM is not The New York Times, as long as I play by the rules and fairly review media, and keep you posted as to where I got the media, I have no problem accepting review copies. We'll strive to do our best to remain neutral with the possibility for limited access in the face of a bad review hanging over our head.

For the record, I am in agreement of the spirit of the FTC's decision, and hope that disclosures are taken seriously. In an industry as small as comics, its often difficult to determine the relationships going on between readers, reviewers, creators, and the engine of the industry. Whether it has much effect on who buys what, I don't know, but there's always room for not being a bought loser.


rhpt said...

You know, Emily told me the same thing about Fred Savage.

J.S. said...

You're still a total sellout- you corporate, lackey, stooge.