A question of personal ethics

by frogpondsrock on February 25, 2012

in blogging,On my soapbox,plastic pollution,potential insanity,thinking out loud

I would never in a million years deliberately align myself  with a brand like Nestle. The evidence of poor corporate practice is far too overwhelming for me to ignore and the thought of supporting a brand like Nestle is anathema to me. I lump Nestle in with my other least favourite brand Monsanto and I try to avoid any purchase of their products. It can be quite tricky trying to work out exactly where their corporate tentacles are tangled. So you might find this post  an interesting starting point.

I am an adult living in a first world country and as such I have the advantage of being able to pick and choose my lifestyle choices.

I am standing on my soapbox today, NOT to make anyone feel bad, but to ask questions that bother me.

I am baffled by the silence from a large number of bloggers that attended the bloggers brunch yesterday. I  know that there were bloggers at this brunch who I respect and I am interested in their thoughts. Why the silence on twitter yesterday? Did you miss the conversation about Nestle on twitter? Are you still working out how you feel? Or did you respond and I missed it?

The bloggers brunch is now a familiar event in blogland. Bloggers get invited to a brunch. An air of exclusivity is maintained which make the invites to these events highly sought after. Brands representatives  turn up and throw buckets of freebies at the lucky bloggers and the blogger in turn goes home and tells their  friends and readers how wonderful said brands are.

Everyone is happy happy joy joy.

Except me.

Watching from the wings and tweeting my displeasure about the fact that Nestle was one of the brands at the most recent bloggers brunch held in Sydney yesterday, my thoughts were Nestle? Really? Then I thought that maybe people didn’t know about Nestle’s atrocious corporate record, so as the #bloggers_brunch tweetstream started to flow I tweeted this tweet using the #bloggers_brunch  hashtag.

Just to make things easy for the bloggers attending the brunch I tweeted a link to the Nestle Wikipedia page. The controversy and criticism section makes an interesting starting point.

By this time other people had tweeted their displeasure at Nestle being involved.

I was at work at the time so I wasn’t following the twitter stream too closely, but I was very surprised by the absolute silence from the bloggers at the brunch.

So I started to poke at the organiser a bit by responding to her Nestle tweets with rather provocative replies of my own.

Deathly silence.

poke poke poke

I am sure there are bloggers out there who don’t want to ripple the bloggy gravy train by saying anything negative about the wonderful brands who were at the bloggers brunch. And from some of the instagram photos the brands were very, very generous. But I do wonder, is a bootload full of plastic product and free samples of  milo and tim tams really worth that much? Is it that easy to become so caught up in the hype and power of  brand events that it doesn’t matter what companies are giving away the free stuff as long as it keeps on being free?

I would like to finish up by stating very clearly that it is not my intention to start throwing stones, or to make people feel bad. I am trying to start a conversation about how we consume, not just the products but the message from our corporate masters.

The message I get from all these brand events is one of  rampant consumerism an any cost and honestly people the planet cant really take much more punishment, but that is a post for another day.

{ 58 comments }

The Tailor's Apprentice February 25, 2012 at 10:08 am

Nestle have seemingly seduced them to silence, but Nestle’s record in the third world is appalling and beggars belief. Thank for your thought post.

Renee February 25, 2012 at 10:16 am

I am fairly new to all this, maybe a bit naive and certainly wasn’t aware of the criticism surrounding this brand. I am not in a position to comment on the bloggers brunch, having never attended one – but I wanted to thank you for pointing this out to me. It helps me to make more informed choices for my family.

Zoey @ Good Googs February 25, 2012 at 10:21 am

I was there yesterday.

I didn’t actually know what brands were going to be there. I skim email usually, so that’s probably why. And I missed all the tweets because the baby is obsessed with my phone! So I was offline for most of the day.

I did see the table there and they weren’t a brand I chose to speak to on the day. And I certainly didn’t take any product. I had a lovely chat with the Brauer people instead.

frogpondsrock February 25, 2012 at 10:40 am

Nestle weren’t listed on the invite as a brand that would be there. But apparently it was mentioned on the newsletter that came out on the 10th of Jan. But Veronica didn’t read the newsletter either, she just skimmed it.

Zoey @ Good Googs February 25, 2012 at 10:44 am

I just checked in my inbox (I never delete anything it seems). And yes included on the newsletter but not the invite. Just one of those things that I didn’t read thoroughly.

Dorothy @ Singular Insanity February 25, 2012 at 10:24 am

It’s the air of exclusivity and wanting to be part of the “in-crowd” that keeps people going and not criticising, at least not openly. And even when they do, criticise that is, they continue to go, because they like how it makes them feel. I have my own views about these events, but if I’m completely honest with myself, I’ll admit that I would probably keep going just to feel “special” – moral ethics flying completely out the window. It bothers me, this need to be made to feel “special” by others.

Looking at it from another perspective, Kim, I know that a lot of the bloggers who go, myself included, do it not for the brands, but for the social aspect. They probably don’t give a second thought to the brands that will be there, focusing instead on the people they will meet. Or is that wishful thinking?

Zoey @ Good Googs February 25, 2012 at 10:31 am

That’s why I go Dorothy. I love being able to meet people and catch up. Most of the time I’m pretty isolated during the week and I really enjoyed being able to get out of the house yesterday and catch up with friends and meet new ones. It was really nice.

Fiona February 25, 2012 at 10:36 am

I loved the social aspect abd the speakers :)

frogpondsrock February 25, 2012 at 10:43 am

The social aspect is the biggest drawcard for me as well Dorothy and the brand stuff just doesn’t interest me normally. Until it is a brand with such a terrible repatation like Nestle that it is impossible to ignore.

Jayne February 25, 2012 at 10:27 am

Well said. One of many reasons I’m not interested in the PR side of blogging-although I realise it’s very possible to do it ethically and with awareness.

Michelle February 25, 2012 at 10:33 am

I absolutely agree with you. Just went and looked at the #bloggersbrunch stream and felt a little queasy. “Girl” lego and hummers being advertised along with Nestle. I have problems with all three.
Michelle

Fiona February 25, 2012 at 10:35 am

I spent a little while talking to the dietitian from Nestle about how few of their products I would actually be able to eat.
And about FODMAP diets
It didn’t even cross my mind about the issues about the formula etc at the time

I suppose it’s not been in my head lately.

The event was interesting from my viewpoint of being a gluten intolerant, not straight, non mother. I nearly laid unto the vitamin rep there when he started sprucing fist oil as a treatment for autism. Good thing they didn’t give me wine til AFTER thqt ;)

Fiona February 25, 2012 at 10:37 am

Spruiking fish oil I mean

Snake oil

Renee February 25, 2012 at 10:40 am

Oh my god – you are a better woman than I. I am not sure I could have stopped myself from punching someone that said that to me. Come and live a week in our house and then tell me about your fish oil. Idiot. (not you, obviously – the rep!!)

Fiona February 25, 2012 at 10:47 am

I think I was feeling a bit shy :/

I’ll save it for the blog post ;)

another outspoken female February 25, 2012 at 10:43 am

I was the only blogger who spoke up at a bloggers picnic at Melbourne zoo a couple of years ago. The zoo had a massive palm oil/habitat awareness campaign going on and incidentally Greenpeace had just released the viral video about Kit Kat and palm oil. What was in the goodie bag? You guessed it, Ne*stle kit kat…I gave it back to the promoter, told them why I was objecting, contacted the zoo PR person the next day, blogged about it. It didn’t change anything though, just got me blacklisted as a trouble maker.

I rarely attend sponsored events (though I’m a fan of the zoo and thought it’d be a safe bet). I also worked with the local IBFAN (International Baby Foods Action Network) person in NZ in the 80s. 25 years on I don’t knowingly buy any Ne*stles products.
(I guess old activists never forgive!)

frogpondsrock February 25, 2012 at 10:46 am

I remember your post. I also remember it as being another head meets desk moment. It frustrates the hell out of me that I am STILL having the same environmental/ethical conversations 25 years on as well.

another outspoken female February 25, 2012 at 11:30 am

We’re a dying breed.

frogpondsrock February 26, 2012 at 8:03 am

My children aren’t afraid to poke at the status quo so I have successfully passed my activist genes on to them. Though my husband laments the fact that I have also passed on the Chaos gene as well :)

Stickifingers February 27, 2012 at 11:13 am

Actually Gill, you weren’t the only one to speak up on that occasion. :)

In my marketing practice we are finding that just over 1% of the bloggers canvassed ever actually ‘drive traffic’ back to the brand. For my own part I have written about how bloggers can be manipulated by Marketers.

I’ve examined the schism between the bloggers who make ethical choices and those who enjoy promoting brands. The pattern is that those who make ethical or sustainable choices tend to be GenX+ or are parents who have concerns on behalf of their children’s future and wellbeing. In some cases it is because they have been raised to have an awareness and wariness to corporate bribes. But there will always be people who love to get something for free or nurture an extra need to feel special, exclusive and included, which makes them easy targets for brands. Aussies also feel obliged to return the favour and blog the product.

Convenience and price is a driver for many in purchase decisions today. Brands recognise that customers are not so fussed about where and how the items are made. Those of us who are principled about ethics are considered trouble-makers because we subconsciously question the morality of others who are more accepting. But I don’t feel the need to be liked by everyone. I’m not bothered by being ‘a stone in someone’s shoe’, because change has to start somewhere.

We have the freedom Kim, as you mentioned, to make ethical choices in Australia. We also have the choice whether we read blogs that promote multi-national brands and the duopoly of supermarkets. In canvassing Melbourne Food bloggers and readers, I have found that increasingly people are turning aways from blogs that appear to be a roll call of promotions for brands and venues, or holiday junkets. Not because of ethics however, but because if there are no interesting stories, just ads, they may as well look at a catalogue with slick photography and brain numbing marketing schpiel.

frogpondsrock February 27, 2012 at 1:07 pm

Good points :) I am Gen X and a parent and grandparent so I am triply invested in the future of the planet. I am also an idealist and a romantic at heart. I think I come from the perspective that I have led the horse to water and maybe if I whisper frantically in the horses ear he will drink.
I also hate to see people selling their souls for a packet of cereal. I know there is nothing I can do to change the opportunistic bloggers perspective but I just can’t sit on my hands and do nothing either.
It is a good thing I play in the mud for a living otherwise this blogging caper might just break my heart.

another outspoken female February 27, 2012 at 1:25 pm

Who else returned their kit kats Sticky? Talked directly to the PR company? And to person responsible for the whole thing at the zoo? It was a weirdly isolating experience, I wouldn’t have felt like such a freak if I’d heard someone else speaking up at the time.

Stickifingers February 27, 2012 at 2:26 pm

Hi Gill! I’m so sorry that you felt uncomfortable at the time. Most of my meagre ethical activism is done behind the scenes, that works best for me personally and professionally.

I chose not to berate the PR team publicly, I did contact them afterwards to express my disappointment. I also thanked them for organising such an interesting event, their approach was generally good as compared to so many others. While the small gift sponsorship reeked of Green Washing, I felt that the inclusion of Nestle was a naieve mistake by the PR team, as perhaps is the case with many who blog on behalf of brands.

At the time I had a contact at Nestle Marketing and discussed with them that it was an ill considered and inappropriate venue to spruik their brand, considering the Melbourne Zoo’s Orang-utan Sanctuary and Primate Behavioural Reseach centre. I am unhappy about green-washing as a part of a Marketer’s arsenal but I think social media is actually eroding its effectiveness. And many say that is what drove Nestle to change their activity in Borneo and Malaysia to stop buying palm oil from high risk plantations.

FMIDK February 25, 2012 at 11:03 am

Thanks so much for the blog post. I was on and off twitter so was hopeful I’d just missed the objections to Nestlé. There track record third world AND first world is dreadful. First world is just more subtle and insidious.
Suzie.

Watershedd February 25, 2012 at 11:20 am

Hey, Kim. Must admit, I was oblivious to Nestle’s human rights record and you just know that’s my thing! Just as well I’ve given up making chocolate cakes!

This feeling of being part of the ‘in-crowd’, well it comes at a cost. That cost is being seen as accepting of the behaviours of those whose goods we gladly accept without question. The goods can be anything from the free sponsored meal to the freebie products given away at an event. The way I see it there’s two responses – either don’t attend the function or if you do, be sure to speak up and question the veracity of the claims being make by the product specialists and sales people. Sure, like @another_outspoke_female it may get you blacklisted, but what would you rather – your soul or your freebie? And yes, if you attend, you leave the objectionable freebies behind. In fact, if you want to be really hard-arsed, leave all the freebies, because the ethical companies should refuse to support the same events as the non-ehtical companies.

I have come to the conclusion that there is not a large corporation on the planet that is completely ethical. Globalisation has come at a severe cost – even in healthcare. People simply do not understand what we allow to happen to others simply for our easy and lush lifestyles. Even at my lowest point (and I hope I never reach there) I know I will be luckier than the luckiest person in a third world slum.

… my Alexandria must need another post …

Watershedd February 25, 2012 at 11:24 am

Hey Kim, I wonder how many of the Tweeters at the breakfast saw your tweets to the @kids-business? I think when you put the Id at the front of the tweet it only goes to them. If you add a full stop before (such as .@kids-buiness) it goes into general circulation. See https://getsatisfaction.com/twitter/topics/_reply_syntax_on_twitter_with_prefixed_full_point_full_stop_period

Leah February 25, 2012 at 1:29 pm

No such thing as a free brunch! I imagine the rules of hospitality would have kept most people silent, you don’t accept an invite then criticise over the c0-host whilst still in attendance … so if Nestle is someone you would not feel comfortable spruiking, makes a big dilemma of what is meant to be a symbiotic experience at best and a free get-together at least. I think that’s where the issues of exclusivity and free stuff kick in to complicate matters.

frogpondsrock February 26, 2012 at 8:02 am

Yes I agree with you. And I also know that my tweets would have been dismissed as “sour grapes” I can just imagine the conversation. *sigh*

gaby@727m2.blogspot.com February 25, 2012 at 2:31 pm

Hi Kim, long time since my last visit. I wasn’t at the conference (didn’t even know they existed), don’t Tweet but just had to back you up on the whole Nestle thing. Thanks to wonderful organisations and selfless, dedicated people who shine the light on such behind-the-scenes antics of large corporations like Nestle… Greenpeace do a wonderful job trying to keep them honest and I also love The Ethical Consumer Guide as they do all the hard work and allow us to make informed consumer decisions. I’m reminded of a National Press Club speech given by Sir Nicholas Stern (English Climate Change Economist) and even though Nestle’s actions are not just about climate change (i.e. they’re also about fair trade and the like) it was so relevant and when the camera swung around to take in audience reactions there were some very nervous looking people… I couldn’t help but think they would be the ones heading corporations like Nestle and other companies that rape and pillage this earth for their benefit. The bottom line of the speech was ‘get with the programme, if you don’t you will get left behind’, he was referring to the fact that large corporations will need to change the way they do things… some will only do so kicking and screaming in protest as they’ve gotten very fat off the proverbial lamb…

frogpondsrock February 26, 2012 at 7:59 am

Hi Gaby :) Totally off on a tangent. I went into a large chainstore that sell seriously cheap stuff that we don’t really need. As I looked at the stacks and stacks of brightly coloured plastic containers, there seemed to be millions of them all in primary colours. I was filled with despair at the future of the planet. We cant keep on churning out this stuff. We buy it. It breaks in five minutes, we throw it away and go and buy some more. Our rampant consumerism is seriously depressing somedays and then I get growled at by those who don’t want to rock the boat. head meet desk

Elephant's Child February 25, 2012 at 3:27 pm

Not likely to get an invite to a bloggers brunch but I am careful, and becoming more so about which products I buy. And I endorse none. Up to people’s individual choice.

Megan February 25, 2012 at 3:38 pm

I just took a business ethics class a few terms ago as part of my degree plan at university and while these things are wrong and should not be condoned you have to ask the question has this company stoped doing these thing and are they working on being more ethical, yes I know some of these thing are more recent, and what other companies also do things such as these but are better at hiding them? I have to admit that I have ice cream in my freezer right now that is a subcompany of nestle, did I know this at time of purchase no but I was looking at the ingredent list which told me that they were mostly real food items, it has chocolate and sugar which makes it not real but anyways the fact that I can pronouce every item listed tells me it is more real then the local store’s brand which in all honesty is what I look for in food, meaning I don’t buy a lot of candy bars and processed junkfood. I think you also have to ask why you don’t see these thing unless you look for them, why do they go unnoticed in the first place, I am a young consumer only 21 that has just recently started to look more closely at where products come from and the companies behind them, this means much research has to me done to aviod companies like this.

And then another question comes to mind how long do you hold these crimes agaisnt that company when they do make the changes, in practice and/or(and hopefully) in management(both would be preferable)?

I by no means think that unethical business practices are okay and a lot needs to be done by consumers to make companies not even consider making an unethical business decisions. But is a forever boycott the answer? We are a global world and that comes with benefits and consequences, we need to fight agaisnt unethical business practices that is not the question the question is how, as from nestle history it seems to me they did not get the message the first time. So how do you make companies get the message and make it stick? (Sorry for any spelling error for some reason the broswer I am using doesn’t spell check for me and I cannot always see the misspelling because of my dyslexia.)

frogpondsrock February 26, 2012 at 7:50 am

Good points Megan. very good points Thank you for giving me things to think about on long drives :)

Janelle February 25, 2012 at 9:18 pm

I’ll tell you why there was silence from everyone.
Because most people were not looking at twitter, and the screen set up to view the tweets didn’t show yours from what I saw, it was too small to read anyway.
I was made aware of your messages in the last half hour of the event (and I was not informed Nestlé was a part of btw, my email invite doesn’t say anything at all).
Around a third of the bloggers in room did seem to be discussing it at the end, however the general consensus towards your message was not what were hoping for.
Sorry, but you did want to know.
Up until the moment I saw your messages I had enjoyed my morning at my very first blogger event, so yes your post has made me feel bad.
You have made me feel like a sell out with no ethics for just attending a function.
While I agree with what you are standing up for, don’t pick on your blogging friends in this way just message us and ask directly.

frogpondsrock February 26, 2012 at 7:28 am

I would message you directly Janelle if you had decided to leave a proper email address and to link back to your own blog instead of linking back to mine. I don’t write these posts or tweet certain tweets for pats on the back telling me how fucking fantastic I am. I tweet environmental or political links and then let people make up their own mind. I was doing that with my tweets about the bloggers brunch because there were some people there I respected that I thought might possibly have not known about Nestle’s corporate record.
I took your comment seriously and I was sorry that I had made you feel bad, up until I went to approve your comment and saw that you had used my url instead of your own.
Why did you feel the need to comment here anonymously? Surely you must know that I don’t take anonymous comments seriously at all.

Surely Sarah February 25, 2012 at 10:06 pm

I saw your tweet about Nestle at the time but didn’t have time to follow the hashtag for any follow-up conversation. I guess there wasn’t any?
Thank-you for reminding me about Nestle’s iffy business practices. Truthfully, I know about them but the last time I heard ANYONE speak/write about them was at University (yeeears ago), when an internet friend was blogging about their unethical aggressive marketing of milk formula products in third-world Africa. She was boycotting (probably still does, though I have fallen out of touch with her) and had the same problem as you – their tentacles seem to be in everything, even back then.
I think it is good to raise the profile of the issue of corporate greed and unethical business practices. Glad you blogged about it.

frogpondsrock February 26, 2012 at 7:46 am

There was a conversation that followed on Sarah but I was at work and didn’t follow the tweet stream closely enough to see if they were using the hashtag or not. Then I became distracted by the tweets commenting on Kevs press conference.
There was a bloggy uproar in the American blogosphere 3 maybe 4 years ago when Nestle held a morning tea for some mummy bloggers. Their corporate practices don’t seem to have changed much since your University days, Although their spin is better.

Kathy February 26, 2012 at 11:28 am

Actually I remember that one – it was more than a morning tea, it was a full-on several-day “Nestle family” junket (conference, major giveaways, flights paid for attendees etc). PhD in Parenting led a major campaign against it at the time. Feelings became very heated on both sides of the discussion.

Christie February 25, 2012 at 10:22 pm

Hi Kim – this is such an interesting discussion regarding how we consume and it’s wonderful reading all the comments and opinions. Nestle participated to discuss their ‘Health and Happiness’ initiative (consistent with the overall theme of the day which was ‘Celebrating Health and Happiness’). Bloggers attending have the personal choice to connect with some/all/no brands involved on the day. At the event Bloggers also have the opportunity to speak face to face with company representatives and pose questions on behalf of them/their readers direct – which is something you can’t do when reading a magazine/watching a tv show/visiting a store featuring these brands. I would think that companies, including Nestle would appreciate and welcome this personal feedback and the opportunity to discuss in an open environment like the Bloggers Brunch?

Great suggestions from Watershedd, “if you do (attend), be sure to speak up and question”

frogpondsrock February 26, 2012 at 7:30 am

You would make a good politician Christie :) Thank you for coming over here and commenting

Jebaru February 26, 2012 at 8:31 am

It’s hard to shun Nestle – they’re everywhere – but I try to, very very hard and never wittingly use one of their products. Had I been told that I’d give up my once beloved Kit Kats, WELL! But it was a cinch as they actually became distasteful to me. I can only hope that my small acts of disapproval, together with the active disapproval of many others, will lead to change. Keep on about it, Kim. You do good.

another outspoken female February 26, 2012 at 9:17 am

A list of Nestle foods/drinks/pet products in Australia. Yes they do make lots of iconic brands. Personally it’s easy for me to avoid because I tend to cook from scratch, eat few sweet foods (then it’s Oxfam/free trade chocolate or small supplier sorbet) and don’t eat dairy. You could become incredibly healthy undertaking a Nestle boycott!

Cindi in Texas, USA February 26, 2012 at 11:47 am

There is a wonderful DVD out called “The Corporation” which I have linked here: http://www.thecorporation.com/index.cfm?page_id=312.

When I taught ‘Ethics in Management and Corporate Social Responsibility’ at University, it was my favorite DVD to show on the first night of class. It is almost 3 hours long, so the students would always groan at the beginning. But by the end of the night, they would be discussing it for the next week with their co-workers and family. I don’t recall Nestle being mentioned, but they probably were. I do know that Monsanto was mentioned.

It was my favorite class to teach because unfortunately, there are so many ‘bad’ examples to choose from… which is sad…

frogpondsrock February 27, 2012 at 9:15 am

I saw “The Corporation not long after it came out and it opened my eyes. and thanks for linking to it here :) I think it is time I watched it again. Food inc. is another one to watch. http://youtu.be/5eKYyD14d_0

kebeni February 26, 2012 at 12:05 pm

yay for you Kim. I rarely go on twitter now and don’t follow any of the ‘mummy blogger’ site stuff. I decided after about a month that I couldn’t ethically do any of that stuff because I didn’t like most of the brands/promotion thing and wouldn’t sell out. I am glad you spoke out and I think Nestle’s silence speaks a thousand words!

Kathy February 26, 2012 at 12:15 pm

I would not attend an event if I knew Nestle was a sponsor. We are a Nestle-free house and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. For me, to participate knowingly would be like attending an event run by or sponsored by the infant formula industry, or child beauty pageant industry. Millions have no ethical problem with these industries and that’s fine, but *I* do, and so it would not be fine FOR ME.

To be fair, in this case it seems that many attendees were not aware Nestle was a sponsor, so making a decision not to attend on that basis would’ve been difficult. I’m in true sympathy with those who aren’t Nestle fans but attended unwittingly; my own deeply ingrained sense of social politeness would probably not have allowed me to leave once there, had I been attending.

I think this throws up a bigger issue, too. The whole field of ethics in blogging seems to me to be radically under-served by the available professional development / conferences, and generally ill-understood, in the Australasian blogosophere compared with the more robust and analytical discussions that go on in the US, Canada, Europe and the UK on this theme.

When people talk about ethics in blogging here, they mostly are talking about things like disclosure (do), plagiarism (don’t) and, um, lying (don’t do that either). All of these are, of course, important aspects of writing ethically on the Internet, but they are so very far from the whole story.

Thinking about the nexus between one’s personal ethics and one’s willingness to participate in events that are tied to or connected to various brands (or particular ideas) is something that I think would benefit most writers and bloggers. I’m talking about having – or growing – a clear stance on what will and won’t be acceptable to you as a blogger, born from your identity as an ethical person. Certainly this can change over time, but hopefully having a firm grasp on your ethical compass will mean you make decisions you can stand behind.

(I should say, I’m not claiming that every blogger has, or should have, the same ethical standpoint on every brand or every issue. I *am* saying that every blogger should have AN ethical standpoint, though, that ideally isn’t for sale, regardless of price.)

frogpondsrock February 27, 2012 at 9:08 am

I agree with you wholeheartedly regarding a bloggers ethics Kathy and I think this should be talked about far more than it is. The focus of the conferences seem to be heavily weighted in the “make money from your blog” direction. I can understand that being the focus of a Nuffnang conference as Nuffnang is a business whose income stream comes from bloggers and advertising. But there is certainly room for more robust conversation in Australia.
I can confirm that Nestle wasn’t mentioned on the invitation , but it was mentioned in the newsletter that was sent out in January. I have been told by a few people that they only skimmed the newsletter and so missed the Nestle reference.
The whole reason that I tweeted about Nestle was to make the attendees aware of Nestles corporate record, then it was up to each blogger to do with that information as they wished.

Kathy February 27, 2012 at 2:04 pm

Yes, indeed. Information is always a good thing; it’s up to the individual to decide what they will then make of the information once they have it.

I agree too regarding the monetisation focus being natural and expected at an event organized by an advertising network (like Nuffnang), but more disappointing in the community-organised or “professional blogger” type events. I’m not suggesting monetisation should be absent as a theme from these events – it’s a key interest of many, maybe even the majority, of bloggers.

But honestly, when that’s the preponderence of the speakers’ themes, it gets disheartening for someone like me who doesn’t directly monetise but does want to write well and be read, to use my voice for issues I care about, and to connect with and socialise with my online community.

NB: I know that by most people’s standards, I’m not pure as the driven snow either – I might not do the sponsored post and ad thing, but I’m open to doing reviews of relevant products that meet both my blog themes and my ethical standards. (Which ends up being mostly books, DVDs, theatre and games, and I am so cool with that :-)

Nonetheless, I think it’s fair to say that the monetisation focus is one that misses the mark for me, and for a not-insignificant percentage of bloggers. It squeezes out nuanced discussions of ethics; blogging & the law (I am constantly astounded how little guidance there is for bloggers on this – a ground-level understanding of copyright, defamation and lottery law would be so useful for almost everyone); blogging and society; blogging as a written art form; and many other things.

(I would note now pleased I was, on this theme, to find that there is a middle-day stream alternative at DPCon for those wanting to do a writing workshop rather than a session on monetisation. I think this is the way to do it if time and resources allow).

frogpondsrock February 27, 2012 at 3:38 pm

I know that Stephen Estcourt who blogs at http://stephenestcourt.blogspot.com.au/ (reminiscence of a food tragic) presented a paper at the Eat Drink Blog conference in 2010 titled, Don’t get Caught in the mincer, Stephen Kindly reproduced the paper on his blog http://stephenestcourt.blogspot.com.au/2010/03/dont-get-caught-in-mincer.html As far as I know this is the only time I have heard of legal issues covered at an Australian blogging conference. I am willing to stand corrected.

Jen February 27, 2012 at 10:39 am

I think it’s great that you’re getting the message out there about personal ethics. Not sure what I would have done had I gone to this or a similar event but you’ve certainly made me think. It’s all a matter of education isn’t it and I’m sure that was your aim with your post, not to try and make people feel guilty.

And reading through the comments above, I second the recommendation to watch The Corporation. It was a very thought provoking film and worth a revisit.

Tanya February 27, 2012 at 1:54 pm

Even if there is no response, keep going! There will be people reading it, even if they are not commenting or replying.

Kylie Huckstepp March 1, 2012 at 4:53 am

I live in regional Qld where we don’t have bloggers brunches….yet.

No fan of Nestle though I did NOT know they made Tim Tams….do they own Campbells Arnotts now? Gosh I missed that one, so thanks for the heads up.

There’s another issue here…about selling yourselves short.

And about independent get togethers.

There are a lot of bloggers living in my region. We connect through facebook in a private group.

We get together in parks. No doubt some day there’ll be a brand there. But we organised it so far so we are interference free.

But why are the brands coming?

Because they see the readership. If they see readership they should advertise….on the sidebar, where they belong and with no expectation of favourable comment – and especially the horrifyingly crappy tweets as shown above.

I wouldn’t take ads from Nestle on my blog even if I didn’t object to their ethics, because I have a food blog and so I can only really take ads from people who make interesting nutritious and flavourful foods…it would be like taking a Maccas ad.

Having said that, I also haven’t really made any money from my blogs….at all :)

frogpondsrock March 1, 2012 at 5:15 am

No, Nestle haven’t bought Arnotts, I threw the Tim Tams reference in because even though Arnotts weren’t mentioned, Bloggers were receiving free sample packs of Tim Tams as well. The Tim Tam reference for me was a plea, to bloggers to not sell their souls for a packet of biscuits, I was asking all bloggers to remember that they are worth more than that.
Thank you for taking the time to comment, Sometimes I feel like a lone voice in the wilderness and the positive comments here are heartening. :)

Kylie March 1, 2012 at 7:55 am

So do I….the last person who thinks selling out is bad. That’s how I sometimes feel.

The last person who thinks it would be preferable if what we use in Australia was made in Australia, despite the cost, despite the labour, despite the WTO free trade agreements blah blah blah…

Love your blog just discovered it through your featured article on Aust Women Bloggers Directory.
I blogged about art in 2006/7 for a year then in a fit of pique one day deleted my art blog…then discovered afterward that some people had actually been reading it. Damn!

Blogging is good for the soul but can be a bit like dropping a pin head first into a well – do we even hear it hit the water’s surface – is there any splash at all…

My food blog is new so I feel specially this way at the moment – but every week there is something to write about…it collects in my head every single week like a cloud of output. And I have some local readers.

Love to see your frog entries. We live on 2 acres and we have (apart from the ubiquitous yukky cane toads – poor unwanted creatures) scarlet sided pobblebonk frogs…isn’t that a great name? They do indeed have scarlet legs.

frogpondsrock March 1, 2012 at 8:07 am

We should get in touch with Dick Smith and offer our services to write a couple of blog posts supporting him and what he is trying to do. I saw him on the telly a few months ago saying that he is giving Australia 12 months or he is closing down the Dick Smith Aussie food brand as it was just too hard to get Aussies to buy Aussie food. I think if people were made aware of just how precarious our position is in relation to Australian food producers I reckon we could get a groundswell of public support. Do you know there is only one Australian owned cannery left in the country? Anyhow I have to rush away to Burnie. We should continue this discussion loater, it has been lovely to meet you :)

Kylie March 1, 2012 at 4:25 pm

Lovely to meet you too Kim :)

I’m up for a bit of engaging Dick (:)) sorry for being leud on your blog there – but yep we should. I have a facebook page called Australian Produce Only but it stalled at about 100 fans…

But I am going to write to Dick Smith, let u know how I go.

Deanne35 March 6, 2012 at 9:54 pm

Kim, I respect your opinion if you are not supporting Nestle products. But we can’t deny the fact that they are one of those on the top products in the market. Even I, mostly consume Nestle products. My kids love Milo than Ovaltine or Hershey’s. But I was little frustrated of the fact that they support their supplier that hires underage people to work for them. This is not good.

Glowless March 12, 2012 at 11:19 pm

I missed all of this. I was on a wine tour and would have found your poking tweets even more awesome then!

I have it on good authority that the event organizer had no idea of any Nestle controversy before the day… so hopefully it’s taught them to look in to who they accept as event sponsors.

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