The Crap You’re Reading

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I’m going to spill some beans – which is probably going to get me in trouble.corporate fucking shill

Ok, here it is:

Many of the articles you’re reading online are actually ads.

It is oilier than Bill Clinton soaked down in WD-40 parsing what “is” is.

These ads-in-disguise are pitched to the owner/editor of a web site as a “guest post” (never say “ad”). They come with a byline and everything. There is no overt sales pitch. The “guest post” reads like a blandly written piece of what we in the print news business used to call boilerplate. Basically, this was a piece of no great importance or timeliness but perhaps mildly interesting that was accepted for publication whenever a slot on one of the back pages opened up. It wasn’t Pulitzer Prize stuff, but it wasn’t an ad.

These “guest posts” are.

A dead giveaway is that the byline above the “guest post” is that of some random person whose name you don’t recognize who has no obvious business writing about the subject. The hack is paid coolie wages to confect a shoddy 500 word sales pitch, subtly salted with “SEO friendly” keywords and links that take you – you guessed it – to the manufacturer of whatever the product is that’s being hawked.

For instance, this:

Manufacture of stairlifts on the rise as boomers age

By Tim Brown

For the past half century, everyone knew that there would come a day when that baby boomer population would become seniors with special needs. The fear was always what these needs would do to the economy, but there is a whole other side to the issue and that is what those needs could do for an economy.

The manufacture of special medical equipment has seen an increase in certain segments of the industry, and stairlifts are amongst the products most impacted by a rising elderly population.

Acorn stairlifts in the spotlight on the Ellen DeGeneres Show

To highlight the importance of stairlifts and just how they could positively impact the life of a person facing physical challenges, Ellen DeGeneres actually rode on one on national television in the US. The show, of course, was re-broadcast around the globe via satellite, and the entire world, in that moment, was hopefully made aware of the problem now facing them as the population ages. The actual product shown on Ellen was an Acorn Stairlift, a global leader in the manufacturing of stairlifts.

Boomers mot the only candidates for stairlifts

However, the manufacturing sector understands that boomers are not the only segment of the population in need of aids for going up and down stairs. There are large numbers of people with physical limitations that need assistance in varying degrees so the construction of the actual ‘chair’ can be tailored to various levels of need. Also, they can be installed for temporary use by a person who will only require a lift for the duration of healing such as after breaking a hip or leg and after some types of surgery. As the stairlift doesn’t attach to the wall, there are no structural changes which makes them easy to remove as well.

Most important feature to look for when comparing manufacturers

When looking for a stairlift either for yourself or a family member, the first thing to look for is whether or not that particular manufacturer meets national and international safety standards. As in the case of the Acorn Stairlift seen on the Ellen Show, these products are manufactured to comply with European as well as Worldwide safety regulations. Here is what you need to look for:

  • European Safety Standards – BS EN 81-40:2008
  • Worldwide Safety Standards – ISO 9836-2:2000

These are the regulations which must be adhered to in order to ensure that the stairlift is compliant with the legal safety standards which must be met.

With global regulations on safety and as technology progresses, stairlifts are not only safer but easier to install and easier to use. If you believe that a stairlift is the solution to someone who is unable to navigate stairs inside or outside the home, you will find useful reading here to help you determine which type of stairlift best suits your needs. Most reputable companies with a solid reputation like Acorn also make provisions for power outages. DC capability is available so there isn’t a worry what would happen if the power suddenly dropped. Acorn on Ellen is certainly newsworthy as it only serves to heighten awareness to a problem we have long neglected, addressing the needs of the elderly and physically challenged.

If you click on the story, you will get this: See more at: http://www.themanufacturer.com/articles/manufacture-of-stairlifts-on-the-rise-as-boomers-age/#sthash.SJKxHeI4.dpuf.

Who the hell is Tim Brown? Is he even a real person? Why is “Tim Brown” hawking the virtues of stairlifts?

Because someone paid him to.

And someone wants to pay me to purvey him to you.

These “guest posts” are sold to the publisher of a web site – that’s me – who is supposed to present the ad-in-disguise to his readers as mere “content.”

I just got another such pitch – from the purveyor of the dreck above. Here is what I received:

Hi Eric,

Thanks for getting back to me.

To give you an idea on what we do, we would be looking to write sponsored content for your site. This content would usually come in the form of a 500-word article. The writer of the article would spend time on your site/s and get a feel for tone, style, and the type of content you usually post. They can go and write a tailored article for your blog. You can review, edit and reject the article if you find it not suitable. We want to contribute to your site and pay you for the privilege of posting it.

Below are the links to sites that have our examples across multiple niches:

http://www.themanufacturer.com/articles/manufacture-of-stairlifts-on-the-rise-as-boomers-age/

http://www.bluebellsandseashells.co.uk/news/view/2014/05/Cornwall_The_Queen_of_the_Campsite


http://dzinetrip.com/appealing-pathways-design-ideas-to-improve-your-garden/

http://jewishjournal.com/bloggish/item/a_disease_of_silence_social_stigma_and_schizophrenia

Given the above information, would you accept sponsored posts from us? Can you send me the name of your site/s if this is something you would be interested in? If the price we offered in our previous email ($50 per post) is acceptable to you, please let me know so we can proceed further.

Regards,

Calvin

It is supposed to fool you – and profit me (Calvin offered me $50 for each “guest post” I publish; he wants me to publish four such per month. That would be $200 in my pocket.)

But it is ruining everything.

First, it is ruining journalism.corporate shills

There was, once upon a time, a definite line in the sand between editorial and advertising. You did not mix the two. Ever. Ads were clearly ads. They were boxed off, separate.

Honest.

There is nothing wrong with ads when presented that way.

But when you masquerade an ad, it is very wrong indeed. Because you’ve just delegitimized the entire editorial side of the publication. How do you, the reader, tell the difference between a “guest post” (ad) and a (supposedly) honest article?

You don’t – or aren’t supposed to be able to.

Which is of course exactly what they – the purveyors of the “guest posts” – want.

But, having spread your legs this way, you have let it be known (even if it’s not) that you are for hire. That nothing you say or write can ever trusted or taken at face value. You’ve sold out.

You’re a whore.

As the brilliant comic Bill Hicks put it, you are just another “corporate fucking shill in the capitalist gang bang.”

Having allowed yourself to be used in this way, you’ve become useless as a journalist. Turn in your card.

Shame.

You have betrayed yourself by betraying your readers. They cannot trust you any longer. Whatever you write, it’s as suspect now as the “guest posts” you got paid to publish.

Was that $50 you got worth it?guest post

But the pressure to whore out is very real – and while I condemn it, I do understand it.

One, the actual ads – clearly marked – don’t pay. If they are Google ads, they only pay if someone “clicks” on them – and then not very much. Unless your site has millions of readers, the pennies, nickels and (occasionally) dimes per click you get will not add up to much. Plus, Google will not even give you the pennies and nickels (much less the dimes)  if your site offends Google’s opaque editorial policies – that is, its internal roster of political no-no’s. Which includes writing honestly about any topic having to do with the actions of the government, perforation of politically correct nostrums about certain topics that must never be mentioned in a critical manner (questions about the weird free-fall of WT7, Israel’s overweening influence on American foreign policy…. oops!) and so on.    spread legs

But the omnipresence of Google ads has put pressure on advertisers to not buy ad space directly – from the publisher of a web site, without the Google middle man. Why should they, when Google can get them the space for freeeeeeeeeeeeeee!! (or the next closest thing)?

But free has its costs.

One of them being the obnoxious ubiquity of ads. Ads everywhere, including in your face. “Popping up,” assaulting you with a metrosexual sales pitch or some chirpy bimbo urging you to “learn more” (hey, its not a sales pitch, it’s educational!)

Enter Ad Blocker software.

Enter “guest posts” – which are the advertisers’ clever attempt to end-run the Ad Blocker software by turning everything online into a got-damned sales pitch. Brawndo

Brawndo – the thirst mutilator. It’s what plants crave.

That was taken from the prescient film, Idiocracy – which presented a fictional world of the future in which everything had been enstupified and commercialized, branded and sold. It was, of course, only a movie.

The stuff I’ve been telling you about is, unfortunately, entirely real.

Others may spread their legs. I won’t. It’s not that I’m necessarily an upstanding guy. But I respect words – and despise those who abuse them. Like Khan in Star Trek II, I spit Shakepeare in their direction, for hate’s sake. For what they are doing to what was, if not necessarily an honorable line of work, at least an honest one … once upon a time.

God damn them all.

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17 COMMENTS

  1. Chairlifts are small time.

    Archived documents have revealed that Mussolini got his start in politics in 1917 with the help of a £100 weekly wage from MI5.

    For the British intelligence agency, it must have seemed like a good investment. Mussolini, then a 34-year-old journalist, was not just willing to ensure Italy continued to fight alongside the allies in the first world war by publishing propaganda in his paper. He was also willing to send in the boys to “persuade” peace protesters to stay at home.

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2009/oct/13/benito-mussolini-recruited-mi5-italy

    In Germany someone had a public speaker/informer on the payroll.

    ‘In 1919 and while acting as an informer for the army and spying on the activities of small political parties, Hitler ‘(… and as they say the rest is history)

    http://www.historyguide.org/europe/hitler.html

    • Hi George,

      Yup.

      I wonder, sometimes, what I’d choose to do if one day I got an offer that would make me financially independent in return for writing about certain things… and not writing about other things.

      • eric, Are you now on a different timeline? Didn’t you make that choice once already? I’m sure the gig at the WP paid pretty well. But you didn’t like writing political ad disguised as your opinion when it wasn’t…..and it was only what you were ALLOWED to write. Maybe I missed something. I’m a maverick myself.

        If I’d just done what I was told and looked the look, said the correct byline, I once could have had a much more moneyed lifestyle. I knew the consequences and now barely get by but I’m not beholding to anyone. My nose is clean, sunburned maybe, but sports no fecal matter.

        It’s a tough road to being your own person. Many of the founding fathers we commonly speak of lived hand to mouth and many got by simply because like-minded people helped them. I hope I’m wrong that what many said that seemed to come from the heart was nothing more than words to receive succor from those who wanted to hear same.

  2. Eric,
    I am a habitual reader of your site and enjoy your articles, especially on autos.

    But you lose me at times, when you take on the extreme attitude like some right or left wing radio nut.

    The 4 letters word and name calling, is shameful for a journalism to do. Sure would enjoy readying a softer and more intelligent written article. With a better vocabulary for words selection than 4 letters and name calling.

    The theme of the article is TRUE. It is wide spread and is no better than news stations just showing Hollywood and Entertainment segments instead of real news and journalistic report.

    God, where is Huntley-Brinkley Reporting, when we need it?

    Got more news with them, then I do with Fox News and all the other so called Opinion News channels.

    They are the Real Shills, Eric. That is what happens when you let Big Corporations run your news networks. Or own most of the TV and Cable channels and Radio Stations across this country.

    Big Corporations are still running our goverment and they own the so call elected officials of this Nation.

    Term Limits on our elected officials sure would clean out our elected officials Stables of all the old ideas and anti- American individuals running under their party’s icon.

    Regards
    A regular reader…

      • Eric, if you want. I can run a filter over your articles and post cleaner versions for any that want them to Facebook.

        Then above the link going to your site I can add a disclaimer such as NSFW or whatever.

        If you want to make Christian commentary allowable on there as well I can do that.

        BTW it was Texaco Hunter Brinkley report. Not much bigger corps than Texaco or am I missing something.

        What about Hunter Thompson he knew when and how to swear who is better reading than him?

          • Cool. I’m at my sisters in Texas. She’s not into free range parenting. Which I totally grok. So I password protect my Icrap and everything is easy Peasy.

            Some folks are uncomfortable without in loco parentis mode being present everywhere. I say don’t hold back ever it only makes things worse.

          • “Sometimes, “asshole” is precisely the right word!” I couldn’t agree. Recently I was speaking with a fellow trucker. When I finished my statement he replied “I didn’t understand you”. I repeated it and he said “No, I heard you. I just don’t understand what you said”. So I put it in 4 letter words, He replied “10-4, you got that right”.

            Everyone understands “They’re two-faced motherfuckers and they’ll talk sweet to your face while they slide that knife between your ribs”.

  3. Surprise, surprise. The ad at the top of this article hawks: Acorn Stairlift (trademark) An Affordable Chairlift for You Safe, Reliable and Easy to Use!

    Just like any number of products that I bought or g00gled months ago and now their ads continuously hound me. In fact, it makes me resent the intrusions to the point I will probably never buy again.

  4. One way I’ve learned to spot these submarine ads is whether only one manufacturer’s products are mentioned. A real journalist would contact several makers of stair-lifts (or bean-bag chairs or whatever) in order to do their due-diligence and perhaps get opposing opinions.

    But only one maker means they’re a shill. Or at best – lazy.

  5. http://digiday.com/publishers/new-advertorial-ny-times-runs-first-print-native-ad/

    “This is not the case. We are truly bringing a new story to our readers from Shell.” -Sebastian Tomich, vp of advertising at the Times.

    Desperate (New York) times call for desperate measures. Between native advertising and Operation Mockingbird (sure, it ended in the 1970s because they said it did), if the mainstream press said the sky was blue I’d have doubts. Maybe if Mr Tomich says it’s a news story often enough someone might start to believe him.

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