You can call me anything you want as long as I get paid and you don’t call me late for dinner.
I’ve been doing “brand journalism” and content marketing since the 1980’s at IBM. Before that I was a national magazine and newspaper reporter, contributing editor, stringer, feature writer, managing editor, etc… Lots of titles.
It’s all semantics.
The lines between a classical journalist and a content maker are blurred almost beyond recognition.
I’ve had magazines ask me to write puff pieces for advertisers for their news section. I’ve produced videos for companies that ended up as segments on Discovery or a local affiliate, I’ve produced “News Minutes” for radio that focused on an advertiser’s product or service, and on and on.
Media company journalists are content makers. So are brand journalists.
The media company will say they are objective and don’t take a position on a story. The brand journalist clearly takes a position. Do you believe the media company?
I’ve learned since sitting in media company editorial meetings pitching stories: There is little, if any, objectivity.
The fact that an editor or editorial staff would choose to run a story on a celebrity divorce, instead of a story on the Marines that were killed this week in a war zone, automatically demonstrates bias. They are biased based on what their audience wants and their business model vs. what really is important news.
The act of choosing a particular story, one quote over another, who to quote, one fact over another fact, is an act of bias. There’s very little that’s “objective” about it.
Each writer and editor brings all their experience and baggage to the party. You can try to fake objectivity, but using judgment about a story is an act of subjectivity.
The news business is a business first. The “code of journalism ethics” is a fairy tale [Oh, there I’ve gone and said it – let the hate email begin]. Nice thing to aspire too but not followed or in most cases not practical. The code is to sell eyeballs and ears, as many as you can, so you can increase ad revenue, not some lofty goal of news nirvana.
The only reason there is evening news from a local affiliate TV station is to put content around the advertising – not the other way around. Do you really care about the car wrecks, burglaries somewhere else, weather emergencies outside your neighborhood, etc? What is the journalism “code” for that?
It’s great to tell all sides of a story. That’s what hard news and feature journalists are supposed to do. But it’s rare when it happens for a lot of reasons: time, space, budget, knowledge…
Most Americans trust journalists less than lawyers or car and real estate salespeople. Why? Because they know objectivity is a myth. They would rather that the writer/producer just be honest about it… like brand journalists are.
Brand Journalism (or whatever you want to call it) – helpful information that customers and prospects care about, usually told as a story – has driven more press to my employers and clients than thousands of press releases.
In fact, I have publishers from newspapers, magazines, and GMs from TV stations contact me to get in on the action. They figure it’s better to find a way to work together than compete. It’s all about the quality of the content and the analytics. Get more eyeballs than the press, and the press will come running.
How about this for a title: I’m a for-profit content maker. No? Better yet, just call me paid.