If you’ve been following the very ugly online spat between blogger Xiaxue and rival online advertising company Gushcloud, you may be shocked that there’s such a thing as masked advertising. Yes, you have been advertised to, and gasp! You never even realised it! What is interesting is how much the public seems to trust bloggers more than professional traditional journalists / ad copywriters, who are more upfront. Organic reviews VS advertorials are treated differently in traditional media, down to the template used, colours, even font type or size in some instances. As a freelance journalist AND ad copywriter, I have read and done my fair share of both. When done well by trained professionals, they can be entertaining, informative and make good reading. The greatest difference I see between traditionally trained journalists and the new breed of ‘I have a blog and I can’t spell properly but that makes me a blogger and therefore, a legit member of the media, so SHOW ME RESPECT dammit!’ is this — many (not all) bloggers simply are not educated about ethical issues. Many don’t see any problem writing whatever the advertiser wants (even if it is untrue) because these bloggers either honestly feel that ‘the advertisers are paying so they get to say what they want’, or they simply want the easy money, OR they are not brave enough to have some editorial integrity. Yes, my little blogger friends. There is such a thing as editorial integrity, which you may not have heard of because you were not taught it as you didn’t go to journalism school. That, however, does not excuse you from blatantly lying because honesty is a virtue that your parents would have taught you — no need for journalism school to do so. Judging from the many stupid comments I’ve read from rabid fans blindly supporting both the Xiaxue and Gushcloud camps, this media literacy skill is clearly sorely lacking in both our local bloggers and their readers. Disclaimer: I have no beef with any of the bloggers and I think Xiaxue deserves props for this piece of investigative reporting. (Though some of her methods are questionable.)

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