Well, folks, it’s happened. The mainstream media has finally discovered the Internet’s sordid underbelly. According to an article in last Monday’s New York Times, a growing number of online outlets have begun reviewing products for reasons other than the simple joy of content production. Advertisers in search of buzz are plying them with freebies, and sometimes even (gasp!) paying for advertising. Naturally, such cosy relationships raise eyebrows. Writes the Times:
Some in the online world deride the actions as kickbacks. Others also question the legitimacy of bloggers’ opinions, even when the commercial relationships are clearly outlined to readers.
Regular readers of this site are probably aware that a portion of our small operating budget comes from an association with Amazon.com. Click through The Millions and buy any product, regardless of whether or how we have covered it, and we get a small cut of the purchase price. You’re also no doubt aware that we run advertisements. Still, the Times has inspired me, as it so often does, to look inward. And so, in the interest of fuller disclosure, here is a comprehensive list of the other potential conflicts of interest we’ve encountered here at The Millions:
- John McPhee shares an opthalmologist with Millions founder C. Max Magee.
- Gerald Durrell once recorded an outgoing voicemail message for Lydia Kiesling, who writes our Modern Library Revue column.
- David Simon, creator of The Wire, smuggled our contributor Noah Deutsch into the exclusive 2007 HBO Christmas party in a scheme involving an oversized trenchcoat.
- The trenchcoat had arrived in a holiday “swag bag” from NYRB Classics, embossed with the likeness of Edwin Frank.
- FSG, not to be outdone, included a diamond-encrusted coke spoon in its press kit for Clancy Martin‘s How to Sell.
- Our contributor Anne K. Yoder was married, briefly, to Philip Roth.
- Prior to our defense of the “Mom Book,” Olive Kitteridge author Elizabeth Strout personally courted Millions contributor Edan Lepucki with a relentless muffin-basket campaign. Guess we know how she got that Pulitzer.
- Nam Le, author of The Boat, won his “Year in Reading” spot in a poker game with Richard Ford.
- All posts attributed to Andrew Saikali are actually written by Ben Dooley.
- All posts attributed to Ben Dooley are actually written by Haruki Murakami.
- A complimentary Junot Díaz beer coosy is currently keeping my Brief, Wondrous Lager of Oscar Wao a smooth, drinkable 52 degrees.
As you can see, the world of lit-blogging is a seductive and glamorous one; temptation lurks at every turn. Nonetheless, I am pleased to report that none of of these potential conflicts has affected our coverage. I am also pleased to report that Oscar Wao is the greatest novel of all time.
[Image Credit: stopnlook]