At RVtravel.com, we get an email like this several times a week. Here’s the latest, received Thursday, June 21:
My name is Jona (last name withheld) and I work with a PR firm based in NYC. I have a client who is interested in getting some basic exposure on your website via a guest blog post, or even just a quick mention of them within one of your articles. This is a reputable, well-known company that I’m confident you’ll be comfortable mentioning on your website.
I’m authorized to offer up to $50 for the post and can pay by Paypal. Please let me know if you have any questions. I look forward to hearing from you!
We declined. Sometimes the bribe is $150 or more. It would take one of our staff members five to ten minutes to do the work required, easy money.
Other online publishers — many in fact — accept this “paid content” and more often than not don’t tell their readers it’s advertising, not legitimate news. A real newspaper would not do this because it’s shady. But online, many do including news websites. The result? Their readers don’t know if what they’re reading is legitimate or fake. Anyone who publishes a website with a large audience could earn a good living posting this sort of biased information.
Because so many RV Travel readers help support us with their voluntary subscriptions, we are not tempted by this dirty money and can keep our content as honest as possible.