Am I selling out if I use government money?

There was a recent storm of blogging and twittering in regards to a well know blogger who accepted money from a large Canadian store to buy items from the store and discuss those items in a blog posting.  Basically, the blogger was paid for a blog post.  He was completely transparent about the situation and even talked about the deal in later posts.  That blogger wasn’t me but Chris.  At least I think it was Chris..

There was much discussion as to whether or not Chris was wrong in accepting money from the store in order to write a blog post.  I, myself, never saw much concern with accepting money to blog.  I don’t really see any issue with accepting money as long as your content/product isn’t affected or manipulated because of that money.  I have no problems.  Do what you want to do.  I’ll do what I want to do.  Give me money!  🙂

Even more recent I did a random Google search for my name “Tyffanie”.  I always like to find out how well my website is ranked on Google’s top searches and to see what new celebrity or porn star started using the spelling of my name.  There was this one porn star from the United States in Georgia, not sure what happened to her.  Nonetheless, I was checking Google and I discovered a search link:

Breakfast with Tyffanie – Canadian Podcasts @ Culture.ca

Breakfast with Tyffanie is an informal breakfast chat with Ms. Tyffanie Morgan from Kingston, Ontario, Canada. She chats about days events, news, shows,
balados.culture.ca/explore/feed/20673 – 34k – CachedSimilar pages

It was no longer a good link but thanks to Google Cache, I was able to view what the page had looked like.  It appears that this Culture.ca website had been aggregating my rss feed.  They were sharing the feed.  But I didn’t get any emails that they were?  I didn’t request if they could share my feed?  Mind you, I’m not complaining.  I just wanted to know what this Culture.ca website was all about.

In my investigations (ie, typing in http://podcast.culture.ca), I found out that the website had been run by Canadian Heritage.  More specifically, the Canadian Culture Online Branch of Canadian Heritage.  I read a bit of Canadian Culture Online Branch information and was fascinated.

Apparently, there have been grants and initiatives to help promote Canadian Online Content focused on our vast Canadian Culture.  I guess my little podcast was a little example of Canadian Culture.  Yeah!  But wait, grants = money.  Is there Canadian Government money available to podcasters like me?

After further reading, I found out that the Branch was not directly funding podcasters but other non-profit agencies such as the National Film Board who then began a program called Citizen Shift.  If this sounds familiar, Bob and Mark had interviewed Tim McScorley of Citizen Shift on the Canadian Podcast Buffet #122.  Tim said there are possibilities for money from Citizen Shift for new content created for Citizen Shift (for more details of requirements, check out Citizen Shift especially the terms of service).  So everything is making some sense now.

This begs to question then.  If Chris’ actions and content were subject because he received money from a Canadian store, would it be different if he received money from the Canadian Government?   If I accepted money from a non-profit organization funded by the Canadian Government promoting Canadian Online Content, would my actions, motives, and content be questioned?

I think the main argument with accepting money from a company is whether or not that company will ask you to change your content or manipulate it in some way.  For instance, by giving you a free iPhone, you might feel pressured to give Apple a good review.  Is this any different with the government?  Perhaps, perhaps not.  The government won’t be asking you to write or podcast a good review about the Prime Minister anytime soon.  Then again, they might.

There is even another interesting argument that I had heard at a ReelOut queer film + video festival panel discussion with independent Montreal film producers/content creators.  The independent Montreal filmsters talked in depth about the use of “found media”.  “Found media” is a term they used to describe media that is found and used without researching the current owner and giving financial reimbursement for the use of the media.  For example, using an old video clip in your own film to help the development of your film.  Why do these renegade filmsters use “found media”?  Well, because they can’t afford to pay the owners of this “found media” nor do they want to be penalized for their use of “found media”.

Sound familiar?  Many podcasters may use “found media” in their production of content.  How many times have you heard a song that you know isn’t Creative Commons?  Is the use of “found media” wrong?  In the podcasting world, yes!  Using “found media” in Citizen Shift is wrong (check terms of use).  That means that those Canadian podcasters that do use “found media” won’t be eligible for money.  Those podcasters who want government money would need to change their content and format to avoid “found media”.  Interesting.

Well, I don’t know what to say here.  I’d love to hear other’s points of view.  Is monetization of online content good or bad, yes or no, Cheech and Chong?  If offered a government grant, would you take it?  If offered a lump sum of money from a company, would you take it?  Is there a difference?

I’m done.

One comment

  • I think you hit the nail on the head in that once you accept money (from whomever), your audience is going to call you a sell out and question your level of objectivity. A company will undoubtedly want to control your message if they are paying for it, and a government might ever try to censor your views if they object to what you’re saying. Being up front about it is vital, as one wouldn’t want their readers to find out far down the road that a blog is in fact sponsored – and thus subject to external influence. Regarding influence and censorship, this issue has a lot of commonalities with net neutrality…

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