Functioning at this level is not something I intended initially, and it poses its own set of challenges. For some time now I have been trying to formulate a general statement addressing issues of objectivity, bias and ethics, so that it is clear to my readers where I stand. Nothing here should come as a surprise if you read this blog, but sometimes it helps to make things explicit.
As far as objectivity and bias go, my position is fairly straightforward: I am not objective. I am biased. I am not a journalist and Lovely Bicycle is not a "consumer reports" type of website. I have my views, my preferences, my favourites, and every single post you read here is influenced by that.
More specifically, some of my caveat emptors can be summarised as follows:
. I have a strong preference for classic bicycles and classic components
. I think that women-oriented bicycle design has been undervalued and I would like for that to change
. I prefer hand-made products of high quality over mass-produced ones
. I value craftsmanship, elegant design and attention to detail over monetary savings
. I value and actively try to promote small businesses over corporations and brand-name conglomerates
. I value and actively try to promote independent frame builders and craftspersons, especially those local to me
. I am open to collaborating with members of the industry in creating products and services that could benefit my readers
. The work I do for a living has slowly begun to overlap with the bicycle industry, and that is something I am interested in furtheringAll of this certainly disqualifies me from being anything close to an "objective observer," and that is fine by me.
The important thing I wish to communicate, is that I am an active participant in the industry and not a passive receptacle of its marketing. I regularly receive product offers from various manufacturers that I decline, because I am not interested in presenting these products to my readers. That means that the products I do accept for review, I accept because I actively want to write about them. By the same token, my choice of sponsors is an active choice, guided by my own preferences. I have turned down sponsorship offers from a number of well known manufacturers whose products I do not wish to advertise. I have also actively approached companies whom I would be proud to have as sponsors. I am an informed and willing collaborator in the industry on my own terms, not a naïve creature who will happily write about anything she receives for free.
My approach to ethics is not to attempt objectivity or to claim independence. Instead, I opt for disclosure: I try to be as honest as I can about my preferences, my biases, and my connections with those manufacturers or shops whose products I mention. It is then up to my readers to take that information into consideration. I believe that my readers are intelligent and are able to factor these things in.
All that being said, if you read this blog I think it is clear that sponsorship has not stood in the way of my ranting against the things I dislike, just like lack of sponsorship has not stood in the way of my praising the things I like. You don't have to trust me on that - simply examine my content.
Over the next several months, some exciting projects will hopefully unfold and I look forward to sharing the details when the time comes. As mentioned previously, I am involved in several collaborations with manufacturers, including Red Barn Studio and Bella Ciao. I have also been approached about writing a book some time ago, though I don't think that is going to work out. There is no shortage of "stuff" going on, but I am trying to choose carefully and not to move forward faster than I feel is good for me. I enjoy writing Lovely Bicycle in its current form. My main goal is simply to continue - with your kind support.
Thank you again for reading Lovely Bicycle... and moreover, thank you for tolerating such a long post without pictures!