The rights and wrongs of beer blogging and writing, though an example of the worst kind of navel-gazing, is a subject that fascinates us and, as Andy Crouch has kicked this conversation off, we can’t resist joining in.
We’re not qualified to pronounce on ethics, here’s how we feel about a few specific issues.
- There’s nothing wrong with having an agenda, but don’t make us guess what it is. (Retailers, brewers, campaigners and PR people write interesting stuff!)
- There’s nothing wrong with blogs carrying ads as long as they’re obviously ads. Helping spam-merchants and search-engine optimisers by ‘seeding’ content: not cool.
- If you want to give your beer writing away for free, that’s fine with us. If you want to get paid for it, write something that warrants it. As we said on Twitter recently, for us, that means offering some or all of: a unique voice; information we can’t easily find elsewhere; real insight; a new angle; authority.
- There’s nothing wrong with bloggers accepting or even asking for free beer but, if you’re getting freebies, be open about it and let us decide whether we want to put any store in your reviews. If you don’t disclose it, we’ll work it out eventually and despise you.
- Some beer writers get good information from their relationships with brewers and breweries, and that’s great. Namedropping is annoying; and if you start to sound like you work in their PR department, we won’t trust what you have to say about anything else.
- If you are being sponsored by a brewery to attend an event at which the guest speakers are from the sponsoring brewery and you find yourself sat next to the brewery’s PR person drinking free bottles of that brewery’s beer, do try to resist sounding like you’ve been brainwashed: “I had not previously liked Duff beer but after the helicopter ride and cake, I realised what a great brand it is. Hail Duff.”
We get occasional freebies but have yet to ask for any. We don’t carry ads because… we don’t, and why is none of your business. We have met a few brewers now but wouldn’t say any of them were our chums. Evan Rail sent us a free copy of Why Beer Matters (linked above).
UPDATED 09:13 with links to examples of beer writing we’d pay for.