Last week Microsoft unveiled details of it's iPod competitor, Zune. If you're a reader of music blogs it would have been hard to miss the announcement as Stereogum, Coolfer, My Old Kentucky Blog, 3hive and Music for Robots all gave the product in-depth editorial coverage on their blogs.
That's largely because Microsoft flew them, all expenses paid, to Microsoft HQ in Seattle to have an exclusive look at the Zune and be briefed on it by Microsoft staff.
It was a press junket in the traditional sense, where journalists are wined and dined by a company, in return for coverage in the media. Coverage that is unavoidably tainted by the circumstances in which it was gathered.
Despite the naïve assertions of some blog evangelists, bloggers themselves seem ripe for some of the worst aspects of PR. We seem to be seeing an upsurge of astroturfing in the wild west of today's new media and I suspect this Microsoft jaunt is just the tip of a very murky iceberg (mashed-up metaphors, yeh) as more companies recognise that many bloggers are up for a little wining and dining.