About a year ago now I was at first a bi-monthly columnist, and then the Senior Editor of a group of websites under the banner "WashingtonAmerica.Com." Things had gone well for several months, and I had recently taken on two, young writers: one a christian-conservative, and the other a very talented, liberal-minded fellow, both of whom I knew from graduate programs at our university. The site owners were pleased that readership and exposure was on its way up, and so, I decided to spend some of my own cash, and do an investigative piece that would benefit the audience we were targeting, the folks that listen to talk radio and similar media on the GOP, TEA, and Libertarian sides of the big tent.
There was at that time, a ubiquitous campaign on all the major GOP/Conservative media outlets, "Income at Home.Com," an outfit that promised the ability to earn a reasonable living while working from home. Looking into the company, I discovered many things:
1. Income at Home.Com (IHC from here on out), was a shell-company, a dummy front for supplement giant Herbalife.
2. IHC, despite media pitches to the contrary, was a direct-sales outfit.
3. IHC, would allow you to "enter" business with them for a small investment, but denied the necessary access to advertising, sales materials, or bulk rate purchases.
4. IHC was clearly a MLM scheme. Those who bought in at substantially higher cash amounts were allowed to advertise and recruit new sales reps--and this--and not the actual sales of products, was the real moneymaker. In fact, over half of all the bottom-rung distributors lost money each year, and the majority of the rest made under 1500 dollars.
So, having dropped 400 bucks of my own money to gain a look inside this bunch, I wrote up an article pointing out the problems with Herbalife's shady business practices, (such as not revealing the actual company or products involved prior to receiving 400 dollars from some potential investor). A presented the column for WA.com, and was editing the first submissions of our new talent for our next release date.
I was immediately locked out of all websites, and the WA.com's owner disappeared, refusing to answer any inquiries.
So, I now had two new writers the owner had requested, and a very nice consumer piece targeting our intended audience that I had invested several hundred dollars and a month's time in, and was completely dead in the water. My credibility with my new writers and the ton of work I'd done was gone, overnight.
Eventually, I simply published my Herbalife/IHC article online with a major search site provider--the IHC company suddenly pulled their national ad campaign (at least in our regional areas), and retooled their programming (this was a very positive response on IHC/Herbalife's part), and for this the company should be commended. My work had had the intended results, consumers would be a little better protected, but the expansion of WA.com's websites was over.
Earlier this year, one of Herbalife's corporate heads left the company and went public with the same concerns I'd brought in my work. A nice ending that confirmed by original complaints.
Bottom line, the way to get fired in the business? Criticize anything remotely related to a national sponsor, even if it is wrong, even if it exploits your audience's worst off economically.
You see exploitation, misrepresentation, and theft are not things we wish the audience to be too aware of, lest they turn their gaze onto the very "fair and balanced" media whores they make millionaires everyday.
After all, somebody's welfare check has to buy that trip to the Costa Rican prostitution resort.