Can objectivity and payment occupy the same space at the same time?

If you read yesterday’s post you know I had started a little project with RhinoGator, an online job aggregator. To recap, I was to use RhinoGator (RG) to search for a job and blog about my experiences. I was also to be paid a modest sum for my work. In response to one of the RG zookeeper’s concerns, I put a full disclosure on the post, ‘fessing up to being paid for the job.

(Sidenote: Can I just tell you, I’m a cheap writer. Seriously. I’m a little embarrassed to have quoted the price so low but whatever. Bygones. Water under the bridge.)

As quickly as it started, the project has ended. RG’s keepers decided the site isn’t quite ready for prime time and declined my further involvement vis-a-vis blogging my experience with the site. As told to me, the objection was the idea of me being paid but still being objective. Interestingly, when I’ve hit this wall before with other clients, the problem has really leaned away from the idea of being objective and more toward the idea of paying for writing which some people still think of as one thinks of as paying someone to breathe – it’s not that hard, everybody can do this, why pay for it? My argument was that it’s possible to do both: be properly compensated and be objective and truthful. After all, Consumer Reports writers still get paid and they’re the benchmark of objectivity.

I’ve now given this project more time than I really wanted to, but it’s making me consider such issues as credibility, opinion, and product placement. I used to write a monthly shopping column for a local magazine. Sometimes, people gave me free stuff or services – it’s free advertising for them, especially if I like the product or service. But I think as a journalist in this manner, it’s my job to provide at least my truthful experience with the product or service, regardless of swag. Which was my aim with RG.

So the job search continues, with or without the RG. It seems my BFF Madeline Willis from JobFox has deserted me, too, possibly for calling her company out for being a scam dressed in fox’s clothing.

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