I’m always interested in tidbits about internet content; being a contributor to several outlets, I recognize that there are different needs and audiences and that I have to walk various lines which are sometimes difficult to define. I noticed an article about a video game reviewer for Gamespot, a CNet outlet, who was canned over a lukewarm review. From the Kotaku post, it appears that since the game was paying big money for ads on the site, they were annoyed over the review and threatened to pull their ads so the reviewer was fired to appease the advertiser. Kotaku, the site that posts the tip, is a Gawker media site and there have been some run-ins with them over a certain indie film review that was questionable, at best. Gossip sites are curious in and of themselves.

A couple of years ago, when I was searching for a web hosting company that would allow a neophyte like me to get up and running, I went to CNet for a recommendation. All roadsigns pointed to GoDaddy, where I signed up. For still some unexplicable reason, I could not load Wordpress (open source software) onto my site and make it run. Many visits to the WordPress help forum clued me in that I wasn’t the only one having problems, and calls to GoDaddy customer service were met with “You must upgrade to a more expensive hosting account” (which I did and still never got my site working). I was a victim of advertising as opposed to good research. After a little more searching, I found folks who questioned CNet’s objectivity and the idea I gleaned was that they would be more inclined toward companies that were advertising with them.

As a blogger, I’m definitely drawn toward people I know and it’s more difficult to get on my radar if I don’t know you, so I’m not assigning grand conspiracy theories, but consider this yet another drum beat for media literacy. It’s tough to be completely impartial and even tougher to run a profitable ad-driven website if you are being honest about goods and services, and sites that make their living in gossip might not be the most trustworthy either, as some days, they might have to just bend the truth to make it juicier. I could be wrong here, since this post was sparked by Kotaku who might be exaggerating or falsely reporting, but weird how time has revealed several questionable instances with these sites.

UPDATE: Karina Longworth over at Spout adds some more insider info about Gawker and shares her own always perceptive take.

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