Disclosure. It is a word that is tossed around like a live grenade with ensuing shrapnel flying around the interwebs.
That online debris leads me to two questions:
1. How much disclosure is enough?
2. Who is calling for more and why?
Let’s tackle that first thorny question. On this blog, every January, I post a generic disclosure. It is pure CYA (cover your ass) because if you read a post in late January you will have to scroll like a madman to find it. And if you read a random post in the dog days of August, you surely won’t see it.
This leads to what can happen to respected beer bloggers and writers in regards to disclosure in this day and age.
Problem # 1 – You can get tarnished if you disclose TOO late
If you hit a WiFi dead spot and don’t tweet that you are on a press junket with free food and beer from a brewery looking for publicity and then someone else does. Well, your tweets and instahoots now appear to be in response to the person who called you out.
Problem # 2 – You can disclose in advance but then your disclosure gets buried.
You add to Facebook that you are in the airport ready to head to the junket. You disclose that it is paid for but by the time the event rolls around and you are posting away that CYA is a distant digital memory.
Problem # 3 – You have to disclose on each and every platform.
No good posting on your blog that you are a blogger with a moral compass. If that doesn’t find its way to the rest of your Social Media hubs, then you can be targeted as a corporate shill.
Full disclosure now requires constant disclosing about everything much in the same way that you had to use the safest of words when political correctness was running rampant in the land.
Did you review a beer that you got for free? Disclose. Did you get a free beer from a publican at an event but reviewed a beer you paid for? Disclose. Do you know the brewer? Disclose it. Is the beer from your hometown? Disclose the zip code. Did your Mom buy you the beer? Disclose the hospital you were born in.
Eventually all of your posts (or mine) could be made up entirely of disclosures if you rode the point of thought all the way to the end of the road. Now, my writing ain’t the most poetic or grammatic to start with. Add a layer of disclosures on top and the reader would be really punished.
Both you and I know that Roger Ebert or Gene Siskel did not pay to see a movie or travel to Sundance or Cannes but they had the “cover” / “excuse” provided by a newspaper. You could assail their taste but not their cred. Bloggers like me don’t have that, so it is easy for those who want to attack me or others. Be the reasons for the attack good, bad or nefarious trolling.
…which leads us to my second question of who and why?
It would be easy and more fun to claim that it is sour grapes (sour mash) from people who weren’t on the junket, didn’t get the free beer or the media pass and early entrance. I see it as coming from two primary groups.
– Beer writers who feel threatened by bloggers. That perceived threat reveals itself in those who complain about bloggers who use made-up words like “grammatic”. The complaints vary from poor writing, poor editing, too much cheerleading, not professional. Which boils down to, not cool like me.
– Bloggers who claim that the internet is a new beast and that “grandpa” doesn’t understand which is untrue. Good writing is good writing. You don’t need to be a top-flight journalist but a little research and practical knowledge goes a long way. At least try to disclose, even if you don’t succeed all the time.