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Just In Case You Were Worried About Journalism

You can stop worrying. It’s dug its own grave.

The Wall Street Journal published this article in April. Included in the article was this paragraph:

Blogger Jessica Gottlieb of Los Angeles accepted $250 to steer her readers to a recent Sears promotion: “For all you Moms like me who are having a mini (or maxi) meltdown due to the economy, let me give you the best tip ever,” she wrote. In the post, she is pictured wearing a $39 Sears dress.

Someone in Nebraska (I say someone because they don’t put their names on their editorials) spun it off to this:

The Wall Street Journal also reported that Internet entrepreneur Ted Murphy, CEO of IZEA, has arranged blog campaigns in which he offered bloggers money to write favorably about Sears products. Jessica Gottlieb of Los Angeles accepted $250 to promote a $39 dress, for example.

I’ve got thick skin, and I can take it on the chin every now and again, but I’m not able to do that any longer. That The Journal Star hires professional journalists and then continues on a path of mediocre reporting is shameful.

I’m not a journalist, but I know that real journalists and their editors fact check. Anyone in the world who wanted to find me would have a very easy time of it.

Here’s what’s wrong with the article, and it’s really only the tip of the iceberg.

  • IZEA doesn’t ask for positive reviews. They never have.
  • I was pictured wearing the Sears dress months before the campaign. It delights me to mix couture, vintage and discount items.
  • I have never recommended a product to you that I wouldn’t want for myself.

It is clear to me that whoever wrote the article at the Journal Star needs a refresher class in journalism. I’d recommend Journchat on Twitter. It’s every Tuesday night and Sarah Evans does a stellar job.

I was on the phone with The Journal Star, but apparently it’s vacation time and they can’t do anything until Monday. Lucky me, I have no journalistic standards or integrity, I can do this.

*This post is neither sponsored nor endorsed by Twitter, Journchat, or Sarah Evans. It’s all just free stuff that makes Mommies a little bit savvier than reporters had hoped.

26 thoughts on “Just In Case You Were Worried About Journalism”

  1. As a journalism student I’m appalled.

    I have turned my readers on to so many great products and TV shows with no compensation other than knowing that my friends/readers are enjoying some good shit. It’s part of what makes blogging so much fun and rewarding.

  2. First of all, the FTC shit is ridiculous. If you are reading a blog, you should be smart enough to take recommendations or promos as just that—and who cares if someone is paid to do them? I think these proposed new regs and WSJ wasting space on this is an insult to women. We are, what? 90% of all consumers? I think we know what the fuck is up. It’s pretty genius to get someone like JG to talk about Sears, frankly.

  3. It looks like the Journal Star has edited their editorial, as it now reads “…accepted $250 to promote a Sears sale.”

    Since the topic is journalistic practice & ethics, this is one thing that bugs me about online journalism–that writers can just “fix” stuff they get wrong. I take the point to the contrary–that papers print big mistakes everyone sees and then small print retractions nobody reads. But at least there’s a record of mistakes made.

    Also noted the Journal Star writer ended with the old saw “if your Mom says she loves you, check it out.” This writer’s spin, of course, was the mommy-blogger angle. But the quote is about double-checking sources, isn’t it? Irony. Gotta love it.

  4. Nothing new here. Some journalists/publications are really good about fact checking and others are lazy. Not excusing this behavior, but this is how it has been for a long time.

    Some of them are just beginning to understand the reach of Twitter, Facebook and the Blogosphere. Now it is easy for the “common man” to reach millions of people too.

  5. You know that “real” news organizations are worried when they come after bloggers. The FTC thing is not about anything but protecting Uncle Sam’s cut and scaring the average blogger out of accepting the odd trinket or two.

  6. What’s sad is how much this happens. There have been a few instances when I’ve known intimate details about a subject and the articles I’ve read about it have been infuriating. It’s most disturbing when they’re in the “editorial” section, like yours was, because while the articles are opinions, they don’t seem to be subject to any sort of fact-finding and I’ve seen downright lies published in some editorials.

  7. Ummm…why is anyone so fucking concerned with what compensation you receive, how and the why’s? I have read you for a while now and can’t recall you transfixed on how anyone else makes a buck, where it comes from and if there is a scant trace of blow on it. if you are endorsed, supported or pimped? Really? Why does anyone feel like they need their hand in anyone else’s pocket to verify what they have?

  8. oh give me a break. don’t these people have anything better to do with their time? seriously!
    someone just sent me an email re: ftc and how they are cracking down on bloggers. and i said the same exact thing.
    get a fricking life.
    more important things to worry about other than whether or not jessica gottlieb got money for wearing a dress.
    i’m so glad i’m not in the public eye type blogger because i think i’d not be very nice.
    well…in person maybe. but i’d be doing some serious bitch slapping on my blog!!
    sorry you have to deal with what i consider to be stupidity. you keep on doing what you’re doing. you already know i’ll stalk you no matter how much money you get paid

  9. I admit I haven’t read your blog for long, but I am not quite sure why you’re pissed. The whole point of a company paying you to review a product or service is the underlying expectation that it will be positive.

    If Company X paid you to review Product X, and suppose you really thought it sucked and said so on your blog, I highly doubt the Company X people wouldn’t be pissed. For example, if you hate Walmart (and made it known on your blog) I highly doubt that they would approach you for endorsement, knowing full well that you’re probably going to write a negative review.

    Please note that I am not saying that you shouldn’t be paid for reviewing products. You’re providing a service and you should be compensated. (I am assuming that you get to pick what companies/products you want to review, and that you already like them ahead of time anyway, so you already know that there’s a high chance for a positive review.)

    If Sears didn’t actually pay you at all to wear and/or promote a dress that’s one thing. Whether by design or by accident, you’re an “influencer”, which I take to mean that your readers will buy the stuff companies pay you to review.

  10. Kermit, Sears did not pay me to wear a dress. I was paid to direct folks to their sale, and I’m quite certain that my having a history of wearing their clothes made them interested in working with me.

  11. Yup, journalism is dead! There are much more important topics to cover than that. Besides didn’t they other guy,… “Mr. Professional Journalist” just pretty much plagiarize and spin untrue BS into the story? How the hell did he make a staff position somewhere?

    Jess- I’d say, “let it slide versus tear them a new one.” On the other hand, you speak from your heart… esp when angry about something. Your one of the very few people that I know who has the balls and articulation to write about what we all feel inside. “Go get em’ and keep up that forefront, which is a beautiful smile hiding the un-caged beast that is your mind.” -CTR1

  12. Having read both articles, the distinction of whether you were paid to promote a sale or just a specific dress doesn’t really make a difference as to the point of the story.

    I do agree with you though that Journal Star’s article is crap, as seems to be most of their paper. It’s one thing to cite other news, but to essentially recycle a story WSJ covered thoroughly way back in April is beyond stupid.

  13. I agree with the comment that print newspapers are struggling to stay alive, and unfortunately, some have staff who don’t do a very good job of fact checking their articles. As far as I am concerned, it doesn’t matter if the piece is on the Opinion Page or not, they still have a moral responsibility to fact check ALL articles they are presenting to the public. WE DESERVE THAT!


  14. just so you know, Loren Feldman ALSO accepted to promote K-Mart for a $500 gift certificate (or was it $5,000?) through his good friend, Izea’s founder Ted Murphy. This happened about a year ago, and Feldman along 4 other ‘famous’ bloggers got into this.

    So thing is, Feldman is a fucking hypocrit critisizing you in the first place, as he was first to dig into this hole.

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