A few disclosures about my writing and advocacy work

About me. I’m an award-winning author, consumer advocate and journalist. I answer the most frequently asked questions about my advocacy on my site. If I’ve missed one, please let me know, and I’ll add it.

About my site. I publish a blog and email newsletter. I sell display ads (like a newspaper) and corporate and individual underwriter memberships (like public TV).

All money raised from the site is used to fund its advocacy efforts. The proceeds cover IT expenses, web design, servers and staff.

A mention of a sponsor or potential sponsor on social media or in my editorial coverage isn’t meant to imply any kind of endorsement. If you think something I say crosses a line, please tell me.

About my stories. I do my best to be fair and impartial every day. I publish a detailed set of frequently asked questions about my advocacy practice on my site.

Since I receive funding from multiple sources — reader contributions, corporate underwriters and ads — I’m almost constantly accused of being biased. It’s difficult to respond to such criticism without sounding defensive. I think the most appropriate reply is: my work speaks for itself.

Sure, you can probably find one or two stories where it looks like I’ve gone easy on a sponsor or where I’ve given my readers (the folks underwriting my site) a pass. But zoom out, and examine my body of work in its entirety, and it’s pretty clear that I’ve gone out of my way to be even-keeled. And if I haven’t? Let me know and I’ll do my best to address it.

Who I answer to. I adhere to several conduct codes. I follow SATW’s code of ethics. In addition, I comply with the FTC’s disclosure requirements for bloggers.

I have regular conversations with my supervisors about my activities and any potential conflicts. But ultimately, I answer to my readers. If there’s something you think I’ve done that I shouldn’t have, please let me know.

How I make money. During my career, I’ve earned a living by various means, from ghostwriting to straight-up journalism. I strongly prefer journalism, but that isn’t always possible. With shrinking editorial budgets, many outlets now ask you to submit publication-ready stories for free.

Occasionally, I accept assignments from companies to write guest blog posts or to do a satellite media tour. In those cases, I have two essential ground rules: I don’t say or write anything that I wouldn’t be comfortable publishing in an editorial outlet. Also, I always insist on full disclosure (“this post is sponsored by ‘X'”).

About my friends and family. Over the years, I’ve had friends and family members who have been engaged in advocacy or travel journalism. I don’t just make an effort to ensure that there isn’t a conflict, but also that there isn’t an appearance of conflict.

I’m the co-founder of Travelers United, an advocacy organization based in Washington. Some have claimed that makes me biased when I’m covering travel stories.

A review of my work will show that I’ve always been fair and evenhanded, regardless of who is being written about. And if you think it isn’t, drop me a line.

About my politics. I advocate for anyone, regardless of political affiliation, race, ethnicity or gender.  I try to keep politics out of my advocacy to the maximum extent possible.

According to the Political Compass Test, I’m economically and socially on the left of the scale. The far left.

dadscoreAlthough I do my best to avoid labels, my audience does not. They call me liberal, progressive, socialist and delusional. I’m not offended.

If you’re uncomfortable with my compass scores or if you insist that all of your information comes from a source that agrees with your political and economic values, I would politely ask you to consider a different news source.