Thursday, March 25, 2010

Selling out bloggers

There's something new from the Google folks who essentially bring you this blog. They have initiated a partnership with that will allow bloggers like me to recommend items for sale on the Amazon website. Links to the site will be automatically generated and click-throughs that generate sales will be credited to the accounts of those bloggers who have installed the Amazon Integration template on their blog site. Ever since I started blogging, I have been fighting the temptation to commercialize my site and make money rather than to write on items that interest me. Ethically, I only want to write. I'm not interested in test marketing, recommending or endorsing products, no matter whose site they are sold over. As a journalist, it is my credo to write for an audience in an honest and fair manner. Oftentimes I am objective in my reporting for established publications. This blog does allow me the leeway, the luxury if you will, to be more subjective in my writing. I am writing to please both my audience and myself. As an objective reporter, it sometimes becomes irksome to have to seek out both sides of the story. It would be so much easier to make up the facts or enhance them in some way to make them more salacious or intriguing. Why let the truth disturb a reporter from getting out a good story? Unethical editors and publishers have been guilty of promulgating just such a philosophy. That is why yellow journalism, so called because of the xanthous sheets on which they were printed by rival publishers Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst, sprang up in the first place. Today it exists in the form of so-called publications like the National Enquirer and Tattler. I'm sorry, but I am not going to write about Elvis sightings or alien babies no matter how many financial inducements there are out there. Just like Alfred Nobel, Pulitzer had a late in life epiphany that brought about the creation of the Pulitzer Prize, considered one of the highest marks of achievement a journalist can be awarded. So corruption and degradation can be transmuted into decency and virtue. Apparently, though, one must wait until he has become wealthy and can see his way clear near the end of his life when morality means more than money. The sad truth is that this is a horrible time to be a journalist or writer. The economic downturn has slashed the advertising budgets of most businesses that still survive. Without advertsing revenue newspapers and magazines have been forced to reduce staff and numbers of available printed pages have decreased exponentially. That means more competition for less and less space. A timely story that might have seen the light of day a few years ago is now doomed. If it is accepted for publication, it undoubtedly will be slashed by an editor down to a more manageable size. When one considers that most journalists are paid by the word, lowering the final tally allowed means less money for writers to support themselves and their families. So the lack of finances means the temptation of selling out to Amazon, Google or Yahoo has never been more alluring. As a budding journalist in high school and college, I wrote humor columns ("With Pen in Hand and Foot in Mouth" and "Quotations from Chairman Smason"). One of my secret hopes was to take over as a column writer for a major publication or syndication circuit one day. Little did I suspect that my dream job would be a victim of corporate downsizing and economic bad times. There is little room on newspaper staffs for humor writers these days, but it could reasonably be argued these are the times when levity and comedy are probably most needed. So, dangle those links in front of me, Google and Amazon. I shall be firm and resolute, a beacon of journalistic integrity for all to see. While I bemoan the lack of available printed space and the loss of revenue for all writers, I understand these are tough times. I resolve I will do all I can to write ethically and beyond reproach for as long as I can. It's a good thing, too, because I thought I just saw Elvis walking with his alien love child.

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