Friday, February 17, 2006

Pinstripes Invading Blogosphere: Commercial Blogs, Execs' Journals Raise Suspicion by Greg Burns

I have been thinking about this article that appeared on the front page of the Chicago Tribune last Sunday. The author writes as though we should be surprised that corporations are making use of blogs as marketing tools, as though the world of the blogs could be kept pure for personal expression, community building, and the greater good. Why would corporations, which already have advertising for which they spend billions of dollars, turn to blogs that can often be free or inexpensive to transmit their messages? Why? Blogs are trendy and often noticed by the young, and it does not cost much for the profit-driven corporations to try their hands at blogging.

The author details two trends:

1. Corporate executives are blogging. At least they appear to be blogging. Donald Trump has a blog, as does Bob Lutz of General Motors. How much of the content really comes from the bigwigs themselves is questioned.

2. Corporations are creating blogs that appear to be the work of everyday people. Why this should be a surprise is beyond me. Look at television advertising. Much of it is testimonial, showing supposedly everyday people using and praising products. The sham is that these are people with no self-interest in saying what they are saying. Of course, most are actors. Advertising is persuasive fiction, and blogs can serve the needs of advertisers in the same way as the television commercial. These fake blogs are sometime called flogs.

Is there anything the blogging community can do? Yes and no.

1. No. We can not keep corporations away from blogs. One of our ideals is that the blogosphere belongs to everyone.

2. Yes. We can blog about the dishonesty we see. This is already happening. Many of the flogs have been exposed, embarrassing the corporations who funded them. (I wish that we could put an exposing public service announcement on television for each advertisement including a lie. Television would be much more interesting. Alas, corporations control television.)

Do you believe everything you read in a newspaper, magazine, or book? Do you believe everything you hear on radio or television? Blogs are no different. Question. Check your sources. Be skeptical.

Burns, Greg. "Pinstripes Invading Blogosphere: Commercial Blogs, Execs' Journals Raise Suspicion." Chicago Tribune. Sunday, February 12, 2006. Section 1, page 1.

1 comment:

Laura said...

Well, yes--corporations control television--but only because we've let them. Groups like our very own Chicago Media Action are trying to change that. Granted, these may be Quixotic fights and Pyrrhic victories (sorry--I just went allusion and hyperlink happy there)--but without them, we're stuck with nothing to do but complain.

My 2¢.