August 23, 2010

About that Daily Caller article claiming a lot bloggers "on the Republican side" are "secretly feeding on cash from political campaigns."

The first paragraph of this attention-getting article by Jonathan Strong says there's "a form of partisan payola that erases the line between journalism and paid endorsement." What's the evidence?

First, there's the assertion of of an unnamed "Republican campaign operative" who says "It’s standard operating procedure" to pay bloggers in some way other than simply buying the ads that you see on the blogs.

Second, there's one blogger — Aaron Park, writing for Red County — who turned out to be a paid consultant for a particular candidate. Park got kicked off the blog for that, which indicates it's not the norm. Now Red County was also getting a lot of ad money from the candidate's opponent, and the article indicates that it was way more money than the blog's traffic seems to justify. But is that the "partisan payola" we're supposed to worry about, the way strategically placed blogs can command big ad rates from candidates?
Florida political blog Shark-Tank.net, which reaches about 15,000 viewers per month, is asking campaigns for $3,200 a month for a large banner ad. For that same price, an advertiser could purchase similar space on political blogs reaching over 1 million readers each week.
They're asking. Are they getting? But anyway, there's nothing wrong with a publishing project that is targeted to readers that particular advertisers will want to reach. What's wrong with a political blog getting into a lucrative niche? It will need to draw readers too or it won't get the advertising, and no one can make people read. It's a built-in safeguard. Really, what is the problem?!

It's so annoying to read an article like this. The headline and first paragraph make you think it's a big exposé and the rest is a lukewarm mishmash.

ADDED: I skipped the stuff about Dan Riehl because it seemed to trivial to warrant lengthening the post, but obviously it's upsetting to Riehl and he's fighting back.

AND: Ace confesses:
Twice I had conversations with people in DC in which the notion of a pushing a story for pay was floated. The first time was years and years ago and was vague, more of a "You know this sort of thing happens some time" more than an offer, and I could have gotten in touch about it if I decided in favor of it. I decided it was unethical and never did.

The second time was about a year ago, more specific this time. And I did entertain doing it. I thought about it, and was tempted -- I did believe the basic storyline I was being asked to push -- and, frankly, everyone else in DC was getting paid (including fundraisers, consultants, strategists, mistresses...), why shouldn't I?

But I couldn't. I decided it was unethical again, and didn't do it, and also said I wouldn't do it in the future.
In case you're wondering, no one has ever even offered me money to blog something. I wouldn't do it, of course, but it never comes up — perhaps because I don't live in Washington, perhaps because (as a law professor) I don't look easy to tempt, and perhaps because it's just not something that happens.

48 comments:

1jpb said...

I wish Althouse had more money.

I'm sure there's a level of wealth after which she wouldn't worry about defending how bloggers make money. And, she would also stop plugging Elton John in a way that benefits her.

What would it take? I don't think that she makes more than $250M a year. Would half a million a year make her calm down about money?

Bob Ellison said...

People who do not understand the numbers and dynamics of the online world routinely make these errors, not always out of malice. Journalists tend to be non-savvy, since they expect to be paid for either their ability to report things or their wisdom, and those traits are not common in their field.

Online, you gotta take your assumptions and divide by three, and then take the results and divide by ten. Very similar to estimating building costs, though in the reverse.

Ann Althouse said...

@1jpb The rule of thumb is that any given person feels they'd be just fine if they only made twice what they do now. So, no matter what they make, they have the urge to make twice as much. You got a problem with that?

But the truth is, I don't blog to get to money. The money I make from this blog is ridiculously out of proportion to the traffic. Ridiculously low. But that's not perplexing. I think I have readers because I'm genuinely writing what I feel like writing and not to get to money.

There's a built in safeguard, isn't there?

Scott said...

Markos Moulitsas Zúniga was a paid shill for Howard Dean in the 2004 cycle, if I recall correctly. I wonder who's paying him these days?

El Pollo Real said...

What's wrong with a political blog getting into a lucrative niche?

The article is trying project the existance of a make-believe George Soros or right wing cabal pulling the strings.

It's kind of a shame that you can't get more private funding or patronage for this blog because you deserve it.

1jpb said...

I get that.

And, I have to say that I do appreciate the reminders to buy via Althouse. About a month ago I used Amazon to spend well over a grand on Autocad and a bunch of Autocad books, and then I wandered over here and felt like an idiot for not remembering to buy via Althouse.

Like you have noted; it doesn't cost me anything, so why not? [Although, as any good conservative will tell you, the costs are actually passed on. Even so, they're very minimal.]

Methadras said...

If you aren't willing to name names, then kindly shut the fuck up. This includes you AlphaLiar.

rcocean said...

I noticed the Althouse Dylan plugs have gone way down. Guess Bob is spending less on payola and more on Geritol.

Bob Ellison said...

I just re-read what I wrote above and found it a bit incoherent.

In case anyone is keeping track, I'd like to be more coherent:

* Journalists tend to be naive.

* People in general have no idea how numbers on the Interwebs work.

* "Journalism", as a means to reporting/finding out the truth, is a sad and wasteful pursuit.

Please comment! I can give details and experiences, but I don't want to bore anyone.

Methadras said...

El Pollo Real said...

The article is trying project the existance of a make-believe George Soros or right wing cabal pulling the strings.


Those darned leftards and their fantasy wish fulfillment again.

rcocean said...

This is just the Daily Caller & Mr. bow-tie trying show his DC friends that he's still a "reasonable" conservative.

Notice he didn't attack "Hot Air" "Pajamas Media" or "NRO".

That's all this is.

traditionalguy said...

Trapped under lukewarm mis-mash and trying to get out. We all know that feeling.

edutcher said...

Methadras said...

El Pollo Real said...

The article is trying project the existance of a make-believe George Soros or right wing cabal pulling the strings.

Those darned leftards and their fantasy wish fulfillment again.


It's the, "Oh, look, a squirrel", strategy. The Lefties have been using it for years, but, now that there's an outlet for the other side to fight back, it doesn't work so well anymore.

PS Regarding Ann and the motivations for blogging: it seems pretty clear that a lot (by no means all) of bloggers are in it for love (country, ideology, just to be able to spout off, etc.) rather than money.

Pogo said...

Tucker Carlson wants invitations to better Beltway parties.

That's what this is. He's been left out, and wants to eat lunch with the cool kids again.

Freeman Hunt said...

I don't know anything about blog advertising, but I know something about traditional advertising. Highly focused targeting is worth a very hefty premium in the marketplace. Very hefty.

Which makes sense. Would you rather get your ad to 1,000,000 random people or 10,000 of the right people?

Freeman Hunt said...

Reading this prompted me to see what my blog has earned via Amazon since the beginning of this year.

$20.87

Woo hoo! Looks like somebody's got one meal at a low to moderately priced restaurant coming to her!

I'll be sure to drink two glasses of water beforehand.

traditionalguy said...

Professor, you have restored my faith in Bloggers.

GMay said...

It's close enough, so I'll file this in the "If you want to know what Libs are up to, just see what they're accusing Cons of" file.

bagoh20 said...

"Would you rather get your ad to 1,000,000 random people or 10,000 of the right people? "

Actually I'd like to get to just that one special one, wherever she is.

LonewackoDotCom said...

The blog in question was pulling in $100 a day from just 500 visitors. That's definitely possible if he were catering to, say, inveterate gamblers or people who could be clients of lawyers, just not in politics.

What's funniest about this whole issue is that people are willing to pay people to be partisan hacks, when the vast majority of bloggers are more than willing to be partisan hacks for free. There are almost no political bloggers who aren't playing for one team or another and who aren't willing to portray things in the best light in order to help their team.

For the independent alternative, check out my site, now with a brand new look. If you want to find out how "both" sides are wrong, browse or search my extensive archives.

Palladian said...

I would happily make politically-oriented drawings and post them on my website for any party or party organization that is willing to pay me.

I can draw Democrats, Republicans, health care policy, oil leaks, moderate Muslims, mid-term elections, Obama iconography or any other subject desired by those who wish to retain my services.

William said...

Beware of bank shots. There was a note in the NY Post yesterday that Snooki is being given lots of free merchandise. The free merchandise is supplied not by the manufacturers but by their competitors. Apparently anything Snooki touches turns to trash and become declasse. The competitors want to see her wearing it or toting it.

William said...

There was another article that claimed that The Situation will make an estimated 5m in the coming year. That is probably greater than the lifetime earnings of Althouse. If you ever wonder why bourgeoise capitalism produces so many peevish and alienated intellectuals, ponder those numbers.

Seven Machos said...

Projection by the left.

Jim_J said...

>>"It's so annoying to read an article like this. The headline and first paragraph make you think it's a big exposé and the rest is a lukewarm mishmash."<<

The Daily Caller is a complete joke; they always promise much and deliver very little.

Whatever happened to their big Journolist expose? It just petered out without revealing anything really substantial. They would have been better off just dumping what that had of the Journolist archives online but that would have deprived them of a week of sensational headlines and insipid articles.

Peter said...

I'm tempted by Althouse! Of course, between Meade and my wife, she's pretty safe.

I would not be surprised to see some bloggers taking money to shade their posts. I would not, if only because my blog is too small to make a nice big bribe worthwhile, but I like to think that my itty-bitty pension is enough to keep me honest. At least until the bribe reaches six or seven figures.

1jpb said...

"If you aren't willing to name names, then kindly shut the fuck up. This includes you AlphaLiar" AND ACE.

Right?

c3 said...

I would happily make politically-oriented drawings and post them on my website for any party or party organization that is willing to pay me.

With fire or flowers in the windows, depending on your mood.

BJM said...

Puleeze... it's not as if con bloggers are on a daily phone call with Rahm or a private Listserv setting the national news agenda.


Right about now Treacher is wondering WTF have I done?

Kev said...

Reading this prompted me to see what my blog has earned via Amazon since the beginning of this year.

$20.87


Freeman, it's a good thing you don't live in Philly, or the city would have made you pay dearly for that $20.

Right about now Treacher is wondering WTF have I done?

He was probably wondering that as soon as he got hit by a car (driven by a hit-and-run federal employee) within a week or two of his arrival in D.C.

LoafingOaf said...

One thing that brings Althouse a huge amount of her traffic: Daily links from Instapundit. Instapundit has a long history of rewarding bloggers who serve a political agenda, and punishing blogers he used to link to when they no longer serve the agenda.

One thing that brings Althouse money: A conservative blogads outfit that has a history of booting bloggers who don't serve the political agenda, and rejecting conservative bloggers who aren't in the tank for the political agenda (recent example: rejecting David Frum).

BJM said...

@half a loaf

Alors! *clutches pearls* Reynolds sends traffic to bloggers who either share his political philosphy or may advance said philosphy!!

Next you'll be telling us that GE is writing Dem legislation, ala Halliburton.

This is an excerpt from a recently obtained internal E mail written by a gleeful GE executive.

“On climate change we were able to work closely with key authors of the Waxman-Markey climate and energy bill, recently passed by the House of Representatives. If this bill is enacted into law it would benefit many GE businesses.”

GE Chairman Jeff Immalt sits on Obama's “Economic Recovery Advisory Board” and it has been reported that Immelt gathered the CNBC reporters together in early 2009 and scolded them for reporting negatively on Barack Obama.

Are you kidding me? You're worried about Blogger Glenn Reynolds when the CEO of the corporation that owns a large sector of the energy and defense contracting business as well as 80% of NBC Universal is Obama's new BFF.

Then there's this:

According to a new survey from Middleberg Communications and the Society for New Communications Research (SNCR), as reported in PRWeek , 70 percent of journalists said they use social networks to assist in reporting (compared to 41 percent last year). This is a huge spike in one year, though it shouldn’t surprise any of us with all the lists of journalists using Twitter and other social networks."

"The survey also found that 69 percent of respondents go to company websites to assist in their reporting, while 66 percent use blogs, 51 percent use Wikipedia, 48 percent go to online videos, and 47 percent use Twitter and other microblogging services"


Hmmm...Journalists, the professionals with jorno school degrees and fact checkers up the ying-yang, are cruising the interwebs for stories?

So pardon me if I'm not shocked that Reynolds sends traffic to Althouse.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Carl from No Oil For Pacifists picked up the check for my pie and coffee when he visited NH. Are we in trouble or something?

Seven Machos said...

ALTHOUSE YOU LIE!

We all know that you are guilty of feeding on cash in exchange for promoting egg salad.

It is futile to deny this truth!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ernst Stavro Blofeld said...

I'll give you $20 if you start supporting shorts for men.

Terrye said...

Much ado about nothing.

Fen said...

The article is trying project the existance of a make-believe George Soros or right wing cabal pulling the strings.

This type of projection from the Left usually means they are about to be accused of the same.

Perhaps a breaking story of donation bundling/laundering thru HuffPo, Pandagon, FDL, Dem Underground, etc.

Leftists put out pieces like the Daily Caller's to set up their Tu Quoque.

Fen said...

LoafingOaf: Instapundit has a long history of rewarding bloggers who serve a political agenda

You got any examples to back that up with?

Or are you just another AlphaLibtard Sock Puppet?

Fen said...

ah, I was right. The Daily Caller's article is cover to spike the real one about Leftist payola:

"Of all the slips of the tongue and unintentional admissions by this administration, Robert Gibbs’ ‘Professional Left’ comment may well be the one they wish they could squeeze back into their collective windpipe"

Well what is this secret thing? It’s a network of people who have are gainfully employed in negotiating, finding funding for and advancing the Leftist agenda. It’s not just a cause, it’s a job. “There is a class of people with radical leftist views who have made it their job – with the help of abundant grants, foundations, and trusts – to carry out propaganda campaigns, indoctrinate, subvert, and plant the seeds of the leftist worldview in people’s minds through the arts, media, education, blogging, and street protests. For many it’s the only income they’ve had in years.”


http://pajamasmedia.com/richardfernandez/2010/08/23/the-inner-circle/#more-10198

We've seen the tip of the iceburg - from the paid protestors who are shuttled around to each city to the mass-produced and pre-printed signs they hand out.

It follows that there is an administrative and logistical base behind these operations.

AllenS said...

Professor,

When people hit your Paypal button, how many are considered left wing?

HDHouse said...

Hmmm Armstrong Williams ring a bell here? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2005/jan/29/pressandpublishing.usnews

ahhh the shortness of memory.

AllenS said...

Armstrong Williams is a blogger?

DaveW said...

OK now this is funny. Every single right-leaning blogger I've read has flatly stated they have never accepted money the way it is being described in this article.

Even guys like Ed Morrissey at HotAir who is a very good writer at a high traffic blog and would be right on top of my list if I were in charge of the payola. Reynolds posted on the subject today but didn't make a denial, but I'd bet he's not getting any payola either.

But the article says half the righty bloggers are getting paid. So...who?

I'd suggest the right-leaning blogs should start demanding Mr. Bow-Tie pony up some names - like more than one, some names that people have actually heard of.

Martin said...

These seem to be blogs that are quite upfront about their political leanings and anyone looking to them for "unbiased" coverage or as a sole source of information is crazy to begin with, so where's the problem?

Trooper York said...

I have a confession to make.

I have been trying to accept payola from the Motion Picture Association to promote summer movies.

But for some reason they don't want to pay up.

Trooper York said...

And Instapundit doesn't promote cool blogs because he says he is a "family blogger."

I think it is just because he is a great big old pussy.

Freeman Hunt said...

If anyone would like me to write things that are pro-free market, anti-Statist, pro-education, or anti-teachers' unions, I would be happy to take $20,000.

I'll write that stuff anyway, but with $20,000, I'll do it in style.

Trooper York said...

I do have a standing offer to blog about any hot actress from the sixties that will send me a photo.

But it doesn't always work out the way I would like.