Just saw this on TechCrunch (referencing a BusinessWeek article): PayPerPost is a new system that pays bloggers a bounty to write about products and services. Companies sign up for the network (currently there are offers to cover iTunes, Superman Returns, Match.com, and many other products) and pay bloggers when they cover their products. There's no requirement that the blog run a disclosure that the item is paid.
This is a bad, bad, bad thing. It's hard enough for bloggers and professional journalists to maintain their integrity as it is. Even an unsubstantiated rumor of impropriety can destroy a writer. And PayPerPost casts a pall of doubt over everybody.
Maybe I'll go start a company that certifies writers as "guaranteed payola-free." Sure, we all have our biases. We're human. But when I read a blog, I want to know that the opinions I'm reading actually come from the writer's heart and head, not directly from some influence-pusher's marketing budget.
I am adding this service to my list of awful ideas that subvert the social contract.