Start of a new week! Let's get inspired. This post is especially meant for the beauty bloggers of the net. I'm new to this blogging life, and I can say for the most part, the beauty bloggers are an amazing breed of people. Maybe I can say "girls/ladies", since I haven't actually met a male beauty blogger yet! After starting this blog, I came to see what a serious and every day responsibility it is to be a blogger (even more so for beauty bloggers, who tend to have high output blogs). I am inspired by you bloggers and by the dedication that you have! I've emailed many beauty bloggers and they have been so friendly and helpful; they're great even behind the scenes (the postings)!
Today's blog references last week's NY Times article published about beauty bloggers. You can read the article here. If you haven't read it, please do. It's a good illustration of the complicated dynamics (drama) behind a "media article". I don't know the writer, nor am I condemning her, just her attempts. However, the shortsightedness of the piece should be examined and addressed. I don't want this blog to be an outpouring of criticisms and rants. We've got enough of that in the world. I believe that we can learn from this experience and put our efforts into working towards solutions.
Summary of the NY Times story:
The piece was about how beauty bloggers are rising more to power. Results: they can demand/command gifts and freebies from cosmetic companies. Story is peppered with loose and extravagant examples (trips, exclusives, fancy meals). In the end, the article is "exposing" the bloggers' bias to be positive in reviewing products, so as not to lose their free gifts. Unfortunately, it continued to unfairly paint a picture in which bloggers blog for the free stuff as their motivation.
Getting to the TRUTH:
The truth is that this article was a rough meeting point of 2 types of media. The "mainstream" and the "personal". The NY Times article evaluates the beauty blogger situation in a deficiently analytical way. There is no acknowledging or empathizing of the personal nature of blogging. The article could have focused on a more sociological/ psychological goal, something like the effect of overly favorable blogs on readers buying habits or something. But, unfortunately, this article had no ambitions to do so. That kind of story would take a lot of hard work! Instead we had a print journalist behaving like a blogger, mixing her emotions into her piece! Wake up newspapers! We don't want your takes on the issues, that's why we read blogs! Just give us well-researched facts!
Blogging for freebies
Let's quickly dismiss the notion of blogging for freebies. Blogging is a serious commitment and can't be done unless there's a real passion for it. People blog because they feel compelled to. Anyone who blogs for freebies would be creating a complete and utter hell for themselves. No freebies are worth what it takes to run a blog if you aren't lovin it! And, btw, bloggers efforts are worth a lot more than freebies in any monetary sense.
Blogging, by nature, is a very personal type of outlet. People read the blogs because a part of the blogger shines through in the writings! True blogging is not a corporate created stream of information, it's the personal writings of individuals. It's natural for their personality to be a part of blog and the reader is completely aware of this! This is what makes it fun and feel a bit like entertainment.
A moment to think and realize the dynamics:
It is quite nice to have perks with the work that you do. And effects that free gifts have on writers is quite valid. Heck, in the medical profession, doctors used to get up to tens of thousands of dollars in big pharmacy gifts! Those days are long gone, but it brings up a valid point: A good blogger, just as a good doctor, would not be swayed by this to knowingly hurt their readers/patients!
Sure, no one wants their information unduly influenced. Pharmacy gifts to doctors are certainly not a good idea. You go to your doctor for the most precious thing, your life and health. But how about freebies from cosmetic and skincare companies to bloggers? First of all, bloggers are writing about what they like, what they think, etc. They are not out prescribing health advice for their readers! They blog about make-up and if they like it or not. This situation hardly requires a watch group to make sure no one gets hurt! It is a no-brainer that the readers understand that bloggers may write only about things they like or whatever the personal "policy" is of the writer. The readers wear makeup themselves and know, first hand, that you can't love everything! If you don't want to blog about things you don't like (that much), then fine. There is a bit of escapism in the beauty blogs, and who wants to read about things that are negative? We get enough of that from every other media outlet.
Now a blog like mine:
If I were being biased by free gifts, that would really suck. TRUTH in SKINCARE is about the truths of the beauty industry. This site is certainly not about escapism (it's more like being hit by reality bricks. yeah fun! maybe not!). The point is, I am a doctor and scientist and that is the approach I use in this blog. I write informational articles from a scientific viewpoint, and for me to push any agendas other than the truth, would be a real disservice. BTW, I'm not implying most beauty bloggers are pushing agendas, just to point out that in a site like mine, the issue of partisanship is much more relevant.
WHAT CAN WE DO:
What can we do to be more powerful against such unfair newsprint portraits. In case this topic of bloggers censuring their reviews comes up again, we should be aware and prepared.
To prevent accusations of being misleading, self censuring, giving false reviews, etc. just write a special section or "disclaimer" post. Explain why your blog & especially how you review products. (Your readers may already know and they may understand you) but this is for outsiders, those who aren't regular readers of your blog. This way, you can't be accused of anything, if you have already declared your intentions and ways! This will make attacking bloggers much less fruitful for the mass media. I've done this myself on this site and put up a "full disclosure" post.
Let's take a moment to also realize the power we do have as bloggers. Our blogs put out an immense amount of energy and influence. Connections to multitudes of people, all across the world, are being made. We can always be more aware of the words that we choose in our writing, the emotions we gush out. We can always practice to be increasingly aware of the intentions we carry behind each and every blog. It is no one's place, no newspaper or anyone else, that has the right to judge our motivations or heart. We are responsible for ourselves.
In many ways, we are the last bastions of freedom in media. Our readers have the chance to hear what is, potentially, the most untainted messages direct from us. We won't lose out jobs because we have to satisfy anyone's particular interests. Unlike corporate media, we have no one pushing rules or agendas on us, we live a "choose-your-own-fate" story. And no one but us can take away our readership!
Ok! Let's have a good week. And thanks again for the beauty bloggers out there for the hard work they put into their very enjoyable blogs! Please visit the list of bloggers that support this site as well, scroll down to the "bloggers that love Truth in Skincare" links below.