Disclosure is Like a Fine Pilsner

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Blogging… If it looks like this you are doing it wrong.
If this post offends you, it is probably because you write about beer and it hits a little too close to home.

If you don’t write about beer, then this post will be unlikely to offend you and you will without a doubt agree with it.

You see, there are plenty of beer bloggers that receive media kits or invitations to breweries. This a great thing and it is an important part of marketing for brewers. It also helps bloggers and readers. Unequivocally… this is a good thing all around in my opinion.

Bloggers can use these opportunities to learn more about a brewery or a new beer that is being released. For the reader, it is a look inside the business or an opportunity to learn about a new choice on the market for which to watch.

Many beer bloggers, video bloggers (YouTubers), or podcasters are not journalists by trade; me neither. But that does not mean that some of the basic tenets of journalism do not apply when plying this hobby or in some cases a business. The one that regularly gets short shift is disclosure of what I described above; free beer.

When bloggers receive early access, media kits, or free beer along with a back stage view of the brewery they should provide that information in the blog post or video review. Many do just this. Many clearly do not.

I have been offered free beer from a couple local brewers. The unspoken inference was that I would write about it. I have declined each time. This is not some noble act. It is simply that I am not interested in feeling obligated to write something on this blog. It is already way too hard to find the free time to post what I feel like writing without obligation.

I recently had a local brewery on the podcast. They offered to provide me with a couple bottles of their beer to drink during the show. I politely declined and paid for it myself. I mentioned that fact on the show.

Transparency is a political buzzword. The word gets tossed around by everyone to the point of being meaningless. Who is against transparency? But the lack of transparency on the part of many bloggers is unacceptable.

If the interaction between the brewer and the blogger or YouTuber is as clear as a milkshake IPA then the blogger is not doing his job. It is not the brewer’s job to say who has been offered products, lodging, or money. That is on the writer.

So bloggers and YouTubers… If you are reading this and you have been clear with your reader about disclosure then you understand and agree, but if you don’t agree what does that say about your relationship with your readers?

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