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From time to time, I receive free stuff. Sometimes it's beer in the mail. More often it's an invitation to a media-only event where beer and food are served. And, of course, there are the various festivals, many of which furnish complementary tokens and glassware to bloggers and writers.
Once upon a time, accepting such benefits would have been viewed as a breach of journalistic ethics, particularly if the recipient went on to provide positive coverage of the beer, brewery or event in question. But times have changed. The unfunded or lowly funded world of blogs means brewers and event organizers sometimes offer freebies in exchange for coverage or possible coverage.
Keep in mind that my free access to events or beers in no way ensures positive coverage. Such access merely means I will probably, but not definitely, provide coverage of some sort. It's simple: If you want me to taste your beer or attend your event, comp me. But I make no guarantee as to the type of coverage I will provide, if any.
Finally, remember that bloggers and media types pay their own way most of the time. I taste more than a thousand different beers a year, most of which I pay for. I also pay my way into many events and typically purchase extra tokens at events where I get comped. Again, my coverage is going to be the same, whether I paid or was comped.