The Blurry Line Between Paid Media and Earned Media

It seems like everyone is getting paid for writing these days, greatly blurring the traditional line between earned media and paid media. Not only has Bush been paying for positive domestic coverage, he’s been paying for positive spin in the Iraqi media, too. Libertarians aren’t immune from the recent trend, either.

This raises an interesting question. As normal people, we feel defrauded when the government (or politicians) pay cash for their covert propaganda. As libertarians, we generally don’t want mandatory financial disclosure laws. Obviously, we don’t wish to see tax dollars used to pay members of the media. The ethical solution seems to be voluntarily disclosure of financial incentives and ensuring that the names of people receiving any sort of financial incentive are appropriately listed on websites and other media.

My question is where should we draw the line on what should be legal and what should be outlawed?

Graphic credit: Russmo.

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