Update: See comments. I may have been wrong on this story, on key details (Scott Rosenberg offers the best analysis, so far). Still believe that the attack on the FM bloggers was over the top. But in fairness to all parties, I am going to wait till the dust settles before writing more.
This is interesting. I kind of admire Valleywag (on most days), but in a post today the local tech-gossip blog seems to have crossed the line in a story about how John Battelle's Federated Media "paid" A-List bloggers to participate in a slick Microsfit ad campaign. There is no evidence that anyone was paid to do this, but still we have the headline, "Federated Media: Microsoft pays star writers to recite slogan." Easy to suggest that the bloggers were bought, because FM has relationships with them. But what the words of the headline state go beyond suggestion.
A few blogosphere lessons here:
--gossip pubs have different standards (they always have).
--the appearance of wrongdoing is almost as risky as actual wrongdoing (that hasn't changed either). Read Charles Cooper at CNET.
--whether or not they were slandered, none of these writers will bother to sue (this has changed -- there is no real money on either side of the dispute, and no one really cares, except for the folks who have been hurt).