In a recent blog post, Roopinder Tara included this throw-away comment:
Pure bloggers don’t do advertising, so no worry about advertising pressure — the secret and unstated fear of us all in the trade press.
I respect Roopinder, but this kind of “pure blogger” label irritates me. I have an ad on my blog for geeky T-shirts, so I’m an impure blogger? Somebody please explain the reasoning behind that distinction, because I don’t understand it. Even if I accepted (say) Autodesk advertising, the idea that it would have any influence on what I choose to write is ridiculous. Yet I see even more extreme viewpoints presented by some bloggers as the absolute truth. For example, how about this from Matt Lombard?
Advertising a product means that you are beholden to that company for cash or other rewards – you have in essence sold your right of free expression about that product. This is why most ‘professional’ journalists that work for ads don’t have much of value to say, they are whores to corporations.
So, if you accept advertising, or you write for somebody who does, you can’t possibly write impartially? Rubbish! Not just rubbish, but downright insulting rubbish. Maybe Matt would find it hard to remain impartial for fear of losing some pocket money, but I don’t. When I’m writing, advertising never even enters my head. Matt, please stop projecting, it’s not a good look.
Back to Roopinder Tara’s comments about advertising pressure in the trade press. As a writer, all I can say is, what pressure? For a dozen years, I’ve been writing a Cadalyst column that has been known to contain uncomplimentary comments about Autodesk (a major advertiser) and its products. I have never been asked to remove or even slightly tone down any such comments. Not once. I’ve somehow survived for about a hundred and fifty articles while writing this stuff under multiple Publishers, multiple Editors-In-Chief and multiple Managing Editors. In all that time I’ve not heard a single peep from anybody. No columns have been pulled, no comments have been censored, no requests have been made for me to state something in a milder way, nothing. Maybe I’m just lucky?
To be fair, there may possibly be advertising pressure being applied and resisted at higher levels that I know nothing about. Maybe that’s the point. If I, the writer, know nothing about any such pressure, then in the written word where it actually matters that pressure simply doesn’t exist.