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Do Blog Opinions Matter More or Less?

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I go online to purchase a new album, but am skeptical if it’s any good. Thus, I read a review on a corporate website, and then read another by an independent blogger. Both reviews offer good arguments for their opinions, but differ completely in rating the product. So who do I trust?

Reviews and editorial content will eternally be debated over their opinions, but should the source that it originates from be more the target of debate? With the availability of blogs and user review sites over the past several years, the playing field has shifted dramatically. I’ve tried to analyze the pros and cons of corporate versus independent reviews, and I believe it’s pretty even now.

It’s easy to be skeptical of corporate reviews, if you know the money involved behind the scenes. For example, do you think an MSNBC editor would be able to publish a review ripping the inadequatecy of Windows? Not a chance, since the site is partially owned by Microsoft, it would get edited out.

Advertising and sponsorship revenue plays a huge part in how corporations review. For example, if Rolling Stone hypothetically published an editorial claiming Guess Jeans are made in sweatshops, I doubt you’d be seeing that two page spread of Paris Hilton modeling the latest cut of Guess denim again there. Corporations cannot bite the hand that puts their gold fillings in place.

On the other hand, most bloggers or user reviews are not being paid for their editorial content. This aspect allows their honesty to be more raw and less edited. Most do it because they want to either showcase their writing in hopes of more opportunities, or they simply enjoy voicing their opinion in this open forum. I’ve found a lot of user reviews are just an outlet after that user finds the product deceptive in its advertising (what a surprise!).

Additionally with a blog type review, the ability for many people to add their opinion or debate certain points within the critique allows greater room for accuracy. Granted, a hundred hard-core fans could be the ones posting comments, but normally objectors are the ones to chime in. Such democratic consensus surely has to have corporate reviewers looking towards such a format in the future.

I’d imagine the primary advantage of a paid reviewer though is professionalism based on previous credentials, although blogs have gained a tremendous amount of ground on them. Celebrity reviewers that everyone knows (like Roger Ebert) create a name recognition that the bloggers and user reviewers aren’t able to match on a national level. But by no means does that make an independent review any less credible.

I think in the end, reviews come down to trust. If you follow a blogger’s other reviews and continuously agree with what they say, they become just as credible as a newspaper reviewer you’ve read for years. For now, I will continue reading both corporate and independent reviews, because I like having the perspective in my research. I implore you to do the same.

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Read and see more of Mark Sahm’s work at Blogimus Prime and Magic Junk.

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  • http://ginasramblings.blogspot.com/ Gina

    I read both types of reviews. Yes, the corporate does have some restraints on what they can and cannot say. So it is best to look at all angles before jumping into things. Just being a smart consumer I guess.

  • Derek Leininger

    Critical Thinking and Facts on our Current Illegal Immigration Situation

    Derek Leininger
    Political Science
    Dr. Allen

    In this research paper I will discuss the laws of immigration, my observations, my personal experiences, and a friend’s experience of legally immigrating, possible solutions, and consequences of illegal immigration. Living in the Los Angeles area, we are able to observe the true diversity of immigration into this country. Just being at Mt. Sac alone, as you walk through the campus you will pass people from all over the world. I love this about my school, my city, and my country. What a boring country we would be if we were comprised of only white people from England. There would be no culture for us to experience and, even worse, no good Mexican food! Critical thinking on this issue sometimes make people, mostly uneducated people, cry out “Racism”. Well, I will flat out tell you I am not a racist. Anyone who reads this paper and thinks that of me, keep it to yourself, because I am not going to listen to it. First of all, I do not blame people for wanting to come to this country. People want to make a better life for their families. I think that is very honorable. But at the same time, there are laws. These laws are imposed for a reason. Open borders would create total chaos. Also, living in a post 9/11 world, security is a clear issue. Although people want to make a better life for their family, I would urge immigrants to do it legally. For example, if I am poor and cannot afford diapers for my baby, it is not okay for me to go rob a bank to obtain diaper money and claim that I was only doing it to make a better life for my family.
    We live in a country comprised of immigrants, so there must be laws regarding immigration. Dictionary.com defines an immigrant as “a person who leaves one country to permanently settle in another.” US Code section 8 defines an alien as “any person not a citizen or national of the United States; therefore, an alien in the United States without a Visa or papers is an illegal immigrant.” According to US Code section 1325, “Any person enters or attempts to enter is a crime punishable by fines and jail-time. The fines and jail time increase every time a person is caught.” So straight up, immigrants in our country who have entered illegally are committing federal crimes. It is also a crime to marry for the purpose of citizenship. US Code section 1325 also touches on marriage fraud. “If caught and prosecuted, the said person could face up to 5 years of prison, and $250,000 in fines.” According to AmericanPatrol.com “There are over 8 million illegal aliens.” I have heard on the television and radio that it could be as high as 12 million. That is at least 8 million illegal immigrants that are committing federal offenses. Also, we don’t know who these people are. I am positive that all these people are here under good intentions, but it only takes about ½ a percent of these people to do things to hurt Americans. That is another major reason why there are laws for immigration.
    I started researching this paper a while ago, but I purposely waited to write this paper because so many big things like protests have been going on lately. I remember the first protest a few weeks ago. I was not in downtown Los Angeles for these protests, but I did watch the coverage on the news. I remember seeing a lot of Mexican flags and some US flags. A lot of kids skipped school in protest and one group of kids even took their march on the freeway. This brought a lot of backlash because people didn’t like the freeways being clogged up and they didn’t like to see so many Mexican flags from people who wanted to be American citizens. Two days ago was May Day. It was on May 1st. The whole protest was called a “Day without an Immigrant”. The idea was for all of immigrants stay away from work and school and show Americans that they are a crucial part of the economy. I was almost excited and couldn’t wait for this May Day protest. I was seriously interested in the outcome, even somewhat worried, because I know these immigrants do a lot of hard work in our country. Well, May Day inevitably arrived, and I didn’t really notice any difference besides the fact that there was zero traffic on the freeway and I made it to school in record time. I asked my peers all around the Los Angeles area what their experience was and they all said pretty much the same thing. What I am getting at with my observations is that although many people depend on these workers, maybe they are not all indispensable. I also observe companies that hire illegal immigrants and get angry because they are exploiting human beings. That is just not right. Nobody deserves to be exploited in a civilized and free country. This is another reason why immigration needs to be reformed, even if for just the fact that people are being violated of their rights as human beings.
    Next I started to wonder, how does one enter the country legally? To find out the answer this question I decided to phone my good friend, Kiana, who legally migrated here with her family from Iran. She told me that she was born in Tehran, Iran. When she was young Iran was at war with Iraq. She remembers having dreams of Saddam Hussein that terrified her. They obtained visas and moved to Redondo Beach in 1986 when she was 5 years old. After years of renewing visas and obtaining a green card, she applied for citizenship in 1990. Her family also hired a lawyer in order to help with the process. It took 14 years of government bureaucracy for her to finally obtain her citizenship. She had to take a test on US history and had to speak English. I was taken aback! I thought that was crazy…14 years to become a citizen and thousands of dollars in costs of visas, visa renewals, and lawyers. I then asked, “Since you had to go through so much to become a citizen, does it bug you that people who came here illegally are demanding it for free?” She said, “No”, she understands that those people just want to make a better life. I respect her for that. She also went on to say that she thinks there needs to be immigration reform because the process is way too lengthy.
    Now I want to touch on how illegal immigration has affected me personally. I will give you some background about me. I was born in Los Angeles County. I have lived in the US for my entire life. I have always paid taxes and abided by the law. I am a full time college student, which only allows me to work part time. I make about $100 a week. I have bipolar disorder and have also been diagnosed with severe depression. I have a history of carelessness with myself. What I don’t have is insurance because I can’t afford it. I also can’t afford my medication that costs hundreds of dollars a month. For the first time in my life, I actually go to the government for help until I can make enough money to afford insurance. I went to the Social Security office and the Medical office. What I observed was, mostly Mexican people with kids running around speaking no English. I then approached the counters of the offices. I explain my situation and they might as well have laughed in my face. I was denied by both places. How can the government in my native country, where I have lived in my whole life, provide services for immigrants and deny me any help? This is just a situation I have experienced.
    I have a few ideas of what we could do to alleviate the situation but before any of my ideas can work some things need to be done. I do not blame all the people who come here looking for a better life. I think the fault lies with the US government for doing nothing about it. In order to fix this problem our government needs to enforce the border. According to Americanpatrol.com, “Every year around 1 million illegal immigrants are apprehended trying to cross the border by the border patrol.” This clearly shows that the wave of people coming across the Mexican-US border is huge! The government needs to come up with a way of stopping this with more technology and more people to patrol the border. Next, they need to enforce laws that prosecute corporations for hiring illegal immigrants. If it becomes more difficult for undocumented workers to gain employment the wave of people coming illegally will be lessened as there is less opportunity. I was looking on ICE.com, which is the immigration and customs enforcement website. They had a story about an Indiana business owner who had been charged by the federal government for money laundering, harboring illegal aliens, transporting illegal aliens, and making false statements. He now faces a possible 40 years in prison and forfeitures of $1.5 million. So hey, let’s bust some more of these business owners and splash it all over the media. That should scare the corporations that employ undocumented workers. But then some people say, well how can these corporations survive without the cheap labor that illegal workers provide? They say that these businesses will have to shut down. So the use of illegal workers is necessary for our economy. Well I have some solutions for this problem. I did some research on contracting of prisoners to do these jobs. Instead of these prisoners lounging around playing with weights and watching DVD’s on color TV’s, lets have them do some work and pay for their crimes. According to Jennifer Grzeskowiak of americancityandcounty.com, for centuries prisoners have been put to work. Now with the National Correctional Industries Association, restrictions that required prisoners to be paid a comparable industry wage and receive benefits have been lifted. These carefully selected inmates could be contracted by corporations for all this work that people say Americans won’t do. It will also help rehabilitate the prisoners as it teaches a life of responsibility. Further legislation can make this entirely possible. I also even found California Form 3507 which is a prison inmate labor credit. That tells me, that the prisoners will be generating tax revenue instead of just letting our tax payers’ money take car of their jail stay. I have one more idea here too. What about all these people on welfare? Can the government maybe say, “Hey, if you want to continue receiving checks, all you able-bodied welfare recipients are required to do is work for these companies we have contracts with.” This will greatly diminish the amount of illegal immigration coming through our borders as there will be no job demand for them.
    Back in the 1980’s, the Reagan administration had a very similar problem. Their solution was amnesty. Well, that obviously didn’t work as we have millions of illegal immigrants here again asking for amnesty. Amnesty I think would be bad for everyone. If America grants amnesty, then why should any of those people all over the world trying to come here legally have to go through the same hoops my friend Kiana did. It sends a message that says, hey come break our federal laws and for these federal offenses we will punish you with citizenship. Amnesty just has to be out of the question. Also, if we provide amnesty, all these now legal workers will require to be paid standard wages and receive benefits, so they’re going to lose their jobs and the companies will hire the new wave of illegal immigrants for the cheap labor. The federal government needs to recognize this. Massive deportation isn’t the answer. I would say the answer would be motivation. If I was president, I would say “If you broke our federal laws and came here illegally you will never become a citizen. However, if you go back to your home country and apply for visas and papers, then you have a shot at US citizenship.” That is the only way. Hopefully this would encourage all these undocumented workers to go back home and respect the laws of the US. Then the next thing the US government needs to do is submit legislation for immigration reform. The process is ridiculous, as you heard in Kiana’s story.
    Why is this whole illegal immigration a problem you ask? Well, one reason is that in the Los Angeles area especially, social services are being flooded by illegal Immigrants. Many of who do not pay taxes for these services. How many hospitals and ER’s need to close down before our government does something about this? Another huge reason is security. Another article I read on ICE.com was about a man named Ashraf Ahmed Abdullah Bashar. He is an Egyptian man who pleaded guilty in a federal court to charges that he oversaw a smuggling ring. This ring was responsible for smuggling nearly 100 individuals from Middle Eastern countries into the US. This is kind of scary as we fear many radical Muslims from the Middle East wanting to kill Americans. How many other guys are smuggling in people from the Middle East? The government needs to enforce our borders so our enemies cannot infiltrate this country.
    So that is my analysis of the problem of illegal immigration and possible solutions. It is a very important and urgent issue that needs to be dealt with immediately. Our government needs to submit legislation to end this problem and keep our citizens safe. Or maybe they will just wait until the first of a wave of suicide bombers detonate themselves in the middle of a crowded shopping center.

    References:
    Dictionary.com Retrieved on May 3, 2006
    US Code section 8
    US Code section 1325
    AmericanPatrol.com
    ICE.com
    americancityandcounty.com
    National Correctional Industries Association
    California Form 3507