By PAUL MOTTER
I just wrote a blog about the loss of daily American newspapers because they cannot compete with the Internet. Papers that have recently said they are close to closing down include the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Seattle Times and the Denver Rocky Mountain News. Even the New York Times has said it has financial trouble.
The fact that will be missed the most is that these newspapers used to make enough money to pay qualified reporters. Sure, bloggers can comment on the news, but actually digging to get a story is a whole different level of journalism. To be frank, blogging is not reporting; everyone has an opinion, but not everyone understands the concept of fact-checking and full disclosure.
Can you trust what you read on the Internet? In the last few years we have come to believe in a certain pedigree of web sites where the reporting is as qualified as the good old-fashioned newspaper; with editors and journalists who care what they say; who check their facts and never write an opinion when they have a vested interest.
Unfortunately, the tough truth is that content-based, advertising-supported web sites do not make as much money as the old newspapers. We rely on advertising for income, and slimmer margins for publishing. We also take advantage of things newspapers could not use; instant input from our readers in the form of message boards, for example.
As Web reporting replaces newspapers it is vitally important to have journalistic guarantees that we are providing accurate, timely and unbiased information. Over the years certain policies have been introduced; site certificates and privacy policies, for example, that help, but have been recently proven not to be enough.
Unfortunately, some web sites care more about making money than they do about veracity and full disclosure. I am sure you have all heard that the news media isn't about news anymore, its about entertainment. On the Internet it can be even worse. The line between hard news and advertising can also get far too thin. Sadly, there is one cruise-related web site where the line between unbiased opinion and outright influence-peddling for compensation was virtually erased.
For this reason, CruiseMates is providing this full editorial disclosure about our articles and our message boards. First and foremost, our goal is to provide you, our readers, with accurate, timely and unbiased editorial content. Furthermore, we assure that when you read our message boards you will not see what look like regular posts but are in fact advertisements for a certain product. Nor are we looking at your posts to collect material about you that may be used in future marketing campaigns.
Unfortunately, not every web site today has the same high standards we have, have always had, and will always have. We do not believe their is a "trend" to blur the lines between unbiased opinion and paid advertising. We do not believe in "compensating the influencers to influence the influencers."
Do you really need more of that kind if mish-mash logic in your daily life? We don't think so, either.