A weekend fire-storm is brewing over the issue of A-List bloggers who were paid to participate in an advertising campaign. Microsoft wanted some social media coverage and buzz for its products and services. They took their desire to Federated Media who roped in publishers on its advertising network to participate. So far, so good. Things took a turn for the worse when those publishers were asked to gin up quotes about how their businesses are "people-ready." The quotes were then integrated into a web-based advertising campaign the result of which you can see for yourself. Bloggers who have spent years building credibility and audiences were reduced to paid corporate spokespeople. They traded at least a portion of their credibility for a quick buck and crossed a major ethical blogging line-in-the-sand. They were paid to produce content that would be posted only if it met with their corporate sponsor's approval. True journalists like Om Malik immediately realized the error of their ways. Others whom I greatly admire are digging themselves in for a fight stating that they are simply "part of the conversation" and this is how "new media" works. Problem is, there is nothing "new media" about getting paid to make a statement that you would not otherwise make. They're only "part of the conversation" because they got paid to have their voices heard. That's not a conversation. That's PayPerPost for A-Listers.