Magazine article New York Times Upfront

Bogus Blogging

Magazine article New York Times Upfront

Bogus Blogging

Article excerpt

As a journalism major at college, I was thrilled to land an internship at a national magazine. My editor asked me to post comments on one of the magazine's blogs, being sure not to mention that I worked for the magazine but to write in a style that suggested I was a reader. That felt dirty to me. Advice?


MY ADVICE: Let's hope your editor meant this as an integrity test for the new guy. Your ethical instincts are excellent: It's wrong to deceive the readers, and that's what your editor asked you to do.

Some well-known people have been nailed for such antics, even going as far as posting under assumed names, a widespread practice known as sock-puppeting.

For example, the chief executive of Whole Foods Market used a fake identity to criticize competitors.

It can be tough for the new guy to challenge an order from his supervisor. But you might say that you would feet more comfortable posting honestly and suggest that candid comments from Nick-the-New-Intern could be a fine spark for reader discussion.

UPDATE: The editor left the magazine, apparently for unrelated reasons, but McCarvel doesn't know what those reasons were.

My school has a monthly pizza sale. Parents buy pies from a pizzeria and sell them to students for $1 a slice. I bought a whole pie at the pizzeria and offered slices for $2 to kids at the end of the long line, but a school counselor stopped me. She said that it was unethical and I was "taking advantage of people. …

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