Many years ago, I was in the newsroom when we received a unusually large gift of chocolate treats from an organization that ran a nearby festival, which we traditionally gave considerable coverage to. As my fellow journalists attacked the package in a manner akin to those starving people you see in BBC documentaries about Africa, a co-worker commented “We can’t be bought, but we CAN be rented.”

This comes to mind as I read the New York Observer’s piece about bloggers flocking to a Las Vegas conference sponsored by a lifestyle e-zine this Midwesterner has never heard of. For the cost of showing up at the airport, this group is whisking a number of bloggers to Sin City for a night and day of parties at the Mirage. No mention of panel discussions, think meetings or strategic planning that gets in the way at all those other business conferences.

Not sure what the purpose is … though I see this as a promotion junket for Thrillist and expect a lot of positive words from those bloggers on my RSS feeds over the next few weeks. Yep, can’t beat good old fashioned marketing to make a name for yourself.

In a time when bloggers are clamoring to be considered as one with the mainstream media, news like this surely doesn’t help the cause. We’ll have to see just how transparent our attending bloggers are in their postings next week. That could help set the bar as to whether bloggers can maintain the same level of ethics and credibility as the MSM, or whether they are just willing to whore themselves our to whomever provides the best party.

Or, maybe I’m just mad because I didn’t get an invitation.

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