Information is great, quality stories even better. But readers require context. In an age where conflicts of interest and areas of bias blur lines in ways greater than ever before, disclosure at a minimum is key. To be clear, I long to live in a world where publications receive and pay fair market value for the highest quality content from the most independent sources. We don’t live in that world. The lack of a fair wage also leads many beer writers to take outside work as brand consultants or public relations agents and consultants. These relationships certainly compromise an individual’s independence, especially when left undisclosed.
Until publications and their respective customers see sufficient value in quality content to pay a reasonable wage to produce it, we’ll remain in this holding pattern, a stalemate where questionable players contribute more than they should. Beer writing to date remains an under-valued and, until the time when quality beer content earns fair pay for its authors, the public deserves some form of transparency, the simplest of which comes in the form of disclosure.
Andy Crouch, “Full Disclosure”, Beer Advocate (August 2015), 20.