I’m bribed again to deceive you. I won’t do it!

By Chuck Woodbury
The bribes keep coming — pitches from slimy PR people asking me to post their stories on RVtravel.com for a price. “We’ll furnish an article, and you publish it and we’ll send you $50, or $100 . .  or more.”

The article will be sponsored by a company. It will look to you very much like a legitimate news or feature article, except it’s advertising in disguise.

For example, it might be titled Ten Tips about Buying RV Insurance. And it might even be helpful. It will quote someone from XYZ Insurance Company. The article’s purpose is to try to influence the reader to click through to that company’s website to learn more (and hopefully “buy”). 

This practice is epidemic. Many, if not most, online publishers take the money. It’s easy, practically no work. 

You are reading this kind of thing all day long. It should make you mad. It does me!

I get pitched once or twice a day. For the record, I don’t bite. If I do, I’m lying to you. This is dishonest and unethical. Here’s the latest pitch, offering me $100: I could probably request $150 and get it.  For five minutes’ work! All I need to do is add a link to an existing article on our website. Here’s the pitch exactly as it arrived:

Hi Chuck,
Would you be interested in placing a text link within an existing post on RVTravel.com. Basically, I am interested in placing a text link on just one of your existing posts. I have around $100 to work with. Would that be sufficient enough to place the text link on this page? https://rvtravel.com/dealing-with-rv-repairs-when-moneys-tight/
I’m more than happy to send you more details, but I wanted to send you a basic outline first. Please think it over and get back to me when you have a spare moment or two.
Thanks in advance,


13 Thoughts to “I’m bribed again to deceive you. I won’t do it!”

  1. Melanie Kite

    This is one of the reasons I support this newsletter. Keep up the good work.

  2. Duncan

    As a new subscriber I am very pleased to know that this site is supplying current, honest and first hand information to it’s readers. Please continue with your ideas and beliefs as it will be this that sustains you as a true supplier of reliable information.
    Duncan (ON, Canada)

  3. John Hiler

    A question, why are you most qualified to sort out the wheat from the chaff? Do you have special training? How do you know that some little thing you are asked to promote may be of great importance later? But, it’s your bandstand so you can certainly choose the bands…

    1. Chuck Woodbury

      John, I’m not the most qualified. But after being in either print or online publishing for most of my life, and having studied journalism and read a hundred books about it, and drank 500 beers through the years with my journalist friends talking about this sort of thing, well, I think I have a good idea of where the line is and when you cross it.

      I don’t have the space to properly write about this. My point was simply to show how easy it is for someone in online publishing to go for the money. You make a promise to yourself when you publish — at least you should. You should ask, “Is my loyalty to my readers or to the ‘money’?” I earn a good living, and I don’t need dirty money. So I make judgments about what is best for the readers of my websites and what is not.

  4. Eric Kaminsky

    I am a news junkie and every day I get emails from news organizations. I am very careful who I subscribe to and only seek info from well known and (hopefully) respected publishers, both print and broadcast. Many have “stories” that are really advertisements but they are clearly marked as sponsored and enjoy a space that is off to the side so there is no doubt that they are advertising. Are they dishonest? Don’t you think that readers can be discerning and realize they are ads, especially when so labeled? As a reader I understand that love of work alone doesn’t pay the bills. But . . . this is a free country and you are entitled to run your business as you see fit and I applaud you. But I do not agree with your “dishonest” label under the circumstances I describe.

    1. Chuck Woodbury

      If an article is clearly marked as sponsored, then it’s okay to run it. But if you visit CNN.com, for example, you see that once you get below the main article, most is sponsored content. Many, if not most people, do not even realize what that means. If you and I could sit around a campfire and talk about this, I guarantee I could keep the conversation going for hours. As online publishers struggle to make ends meet, they often turn to this method of earning income even though it is often borderline unethical.

  5. Moaboy

    I’m glad u don’t include these types of articles, and commend u accordingly, but there is nothing morally wrong with the guy asking.
    Everybody is trying to sell something, to make a living and obviously to a certain extent u have to accept some amount or form of advertising to stay in business, unless one is independently wealthy.
    I wouldn’t consider it a bribe per se, and it may be frustrating to u to have to put up with this type of sales calls, but I don’t think it should make u angry.
    All the best, and keep up the good work!

  6. Onwego

    Here’s how you know I know nothing about journalism: Could you take the money, embed the link, and identify it as sponsored? We’re all grown-ups here, and doing this would support the newsletter and leave it up to us to practice reader emptor. If the sponsor conditions payment on not doing this, then they’re “slimy”, indeed, and you’re to be commended for acting accordingly.

    1. Chuck Woodbury

      The way this was pitched to me was that it could not be identifed as sponsored. It would appear to readers that the link was added by us to be helpful. There is a whole industry popping up that pitches paid content in a variety of forms, some more honest than others. For a website that is not concerned with ethics it can be a gold mine. I just refuse to go there. . .

      1. C B Sheward

        you know the way I see this it’s is your thing so just do your thing as you see fit, i’ll keep reading it or I can change to something, I do enjoy all the written article in your rv travel, I use the amazon store any time i order, just keep up the good work.

  7. Marilyn R

    Soon I’ll be able to pay a few $$’s (house is selling!) to help out with the newsletter so that you can continue to follow the high ground. Not always an easy choice and I thank you.

  8. Karen Carter

    Thanks for staying strong, it is quite annoying to click and realize you got a sales ad vs real user data with tried solutions from folks who rv themselves. Keep up the good work and hoping your newsletter keeps growing.

  9. Tom G

    I’ve seen “news articles” like you describe and have always thought “is this a paid ad?” While some of the info may be useful it always gravitates back to “buy from us.” A very deep and sincere “Thanks” for not going that route. Earning [?] money to help pay the bills is always nice but the line has to be drawn somewhere.

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