That seems to be the question these days. It follows on changes to the FTC’s rules requiring, among other things, that bloggers to disclose if they’ve received product samples for review.
There’s been a lot of discussion on the subject online and in MSM including a good piece in the Globe and Mail. There was also a lively Twitter debate between Jeff Jarvis and Mark Glazer (thanks Mathew Ingram).
And while the ruling doesn’t apply to Canada, the principles do.
For the record, I am in favour of disclosure. I think it’s always easier to be up-front, honest and transparent. Then, people know who you are and where you stand.
I think a lack of disclosure by some (many?) PR practitioners over the years, contributed to giving our profession a bad name.
However, I think Jeff Jarvis brings up a good point about fairness. Why should bloggers be singled out when MSM journalists receive product samples all the time? Shouldn’t both be held to the same standards? If not, the rules seem skewed in favour of companies over those with an individual voice.
I’d much rather have a level playing field with the same code of transparency, ethical behaviour and freedom of expression for all sides.
UPDATE: Here’s a good legal perspective on the new FTC regulation from the Council of PR Firms’ legal counsel, Davis and Gilbert LLP (by Michael Lasky).