Well not technically, but I do like to “stalk” out other publications that compete with my magazine. Fishing is a huge industry in Maryland and all along the East Coast, so there are several outlets for advertisers to turn to. One of the blogs I enjoy checking out from time to time is the East Coast Angler, although it hasn’t been updated since early September. Unfortunately, this causes a lack of interest, so hopefully the author of this blog will update their site soon. Tidal Fish is another good one for news updates and various types of information.
Being biased, my publication, Coastal Fisherman, is top-notch and is garnering more and more interest from a variety of advertisers. We’re a small operation – just two of us in the office – so it’s plenty of work but it’s a passion. It is important to know what the competition is doing and to stay one step ahead of them if possible.
The majority of companies are solely print and they charge a fee for their publications. My mag is free and is going to a video format as well on the Web – this is a new addition this year and is in the infant stages as we speak. We will be recording video segments regarding fishing and everything that has to do with it. Advertisers are already interested via word of mouth, so this should be an exciting project for us. Onward and upward!
Back to the topic on hand, is it ethical to use blogs to gather information from competitors? In my opinion, the information is out there free for the taking, so why not? I found an interesting piece on the legal aspects of lifting information from blogs called “Ethical Considerations for Blog-Related Discovery” written by Jason Boulette and Tanya DeMent. Apparently, discoveries made in blogs can be used in litigations so people should be wary of what they post. “Some examples of potential uses of blogs for informal discovery purposes include monitoring an opposing party’s blog for useful tidbits of information” (Boulette, DeMent 2008).
Here’s an interesting article regarding journalists using blogs for material: “New Media and Blogging for Influence with Journalists” (Odden, 2008) states that:
• Over three quarters of reporters see blogs as helpful in giving them story ideas, story angles and insight into the tone of an issue
• Nearly 70 percent of all reporters check a blog list on a regular basis
• One in four reporters (27.7%) have their own blogs
• About one in five (16.3%) have their own social networking page
• Almost half of reporters (47.5%) say they are “lurkers”
• Over half said that blogs were having a significant impact on the “tone” (61.8%) and “editorial direction” (51.1%) of news reporting
Obviously, blogging is a great way to gather information as long as it is credible. All in all, I think it is an ethical practice as long as the information is used with good conscience.
Odden, Lee. (2008). “New Media and Blogging for Influence with Journalists” Referenced November 5, 2008. http://www.toprankblog.com/2008/01/new-media-and-blogging-for-influence-with-journalists/