Sometimes, what you don’t put in a story is as significant as what gets published.
Take today’s story, Hotel Reviews Online: In Bed With Hope, Half-Truths and Hype, that appeared in the business section of The New York Times.
For example, I did not include any information about how to spot a fake review. I could say that it was beyond the scope of the story. But the truth is, no one would tell me — even when I asked nicely.
Maybe it’s because no one really knows.
I also left out the name of the Key West property that offered a 10 percent discount to future guests in exchange for a favorable review on TripAdvisor. I interviewed that hotel owner and came away believing that she was more of a victim than a criminal.
Indeed, there was ample evidence that many of her competitors had figured out how to manipulate the system without getting caught. If I was going to name names, it would have been them.
Finally, I didn’t state my own opinion about the credibility of online reviews. That’s because this was a news feature, not an opinion column like Sounding Off, which appears every other week in the Times.
But after spending several weeks researching this story, it’s pretty obvious to me that hotels are having their way with the review sites. And I would never base a lodging decision solely on a review I read online.