Sunday, November 27, 2005

As Corporate Ad Money Flows Their Way, Bloggers Risk Their Rebel Reputation

By LOUISE STORY
New York Times

When Anita Campbell started her Web log about small-business trends two years ago, she thought it would simply be a service for her clients and help her consulting business grow.

Instead, she said, the blog "just took off," attracting more readers than she had dreamed of. Then, companies offered to pay her to post advertisements and product mentions on her site. There were enough offers, she said, that she could choose to work with only the ones relevant to her readers. And so, her blog, once just a marketing tool, became a money generator on its own.

"I never try to hide the fact that I am writing about an advertiser," she said in an e-mail statement. "But I also don't apologize for accepting advertising, and I make it clear that just like everyone else I have to earn a living and pay the expenses of keeping the site going."

After beginning as a vehicle for anti-establishment, noncommercial writers, many Web logs have laid out welcome mats for corporate America in the last couple of years. No one tracks how much advertising money is flowing to Web logs. Nor is it clear how many bloggers, like Ms. Campbell, disclose their sponsors. But when writers have not been completely open, their fellow bloggers have been quick to criticize.


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