Sunday, November 2, 2014

Journalists Telling Stories

News Reportage

In an article   (“Who cares who’s a journalist”; Oct 31, 2014) in Columbia Journalism Review, Elizabeth Spayd writes: 
By next year, Coca-Cola hopes to have killed the press release. It believes the corporate website is dead, and it’s shifting its money away from television advertising. It has little use for journalists who aren’t interested in stories Coke wants to tell. Instead, it’s decided that producing its own content is better than relying on others.

To that end, Coke—and Nestlé and Chipotle and Volkswagen and countless other companies—have blown up their marketing departments in recent years. They’ve infused them with something that looks closer to a newsroom, producing glossy magazines, blog networks, reported articles, long-form narratives, and compelling videos. One Volkswagen video alone, filmed in a Hong Kong movie theater, has drawn almost 29 million viewers on YouTube, proof that you don’t have to work in a newsroom to understand the dynamics of social media. Or check out a site produced by Red Bull on surfing: It’s filled with spectacular photography, short documentaries, the latest news on surfing, and very little about Red Bull energy drinks.
Corporations are by-passing traditional information channels to deliver their product messages directly to consumers; is this a threat to journalists? No, and here’s my view on why such changes can be good, based on personal experience. I started this blog more than four years ago with a few simple aims, and thought then I would focus more on the craft of journalism and the gathering of news stories. (see Why a Journalist?; August 19, 2010). But this blog has changed its focus, its direction so to speak, which in my view has been good and necessary.

Thus, as a trained journalist, I actually view as positive current changes affecting journalism and advertising, which has always had an uneasy but necessary relationship. The changes will set clear and delineated boundaries (between news and advertising), and thus persuade journalists and, more important, the organizations they work for to focus on hard news (and away from soft fluff)—areas that content marketing is not interested in pursuing. It might actually be good for the trade or craft of journalism, making journalists and news organizations better in the pursuit of genuine news.

What is journalism, anyway, but the telling of a story? News organizations will now, I am persuaded, be forced to work harder, and become more innovative in how they tell their stories to an audience that is now more fragmented and more distracted, and shrinking. Those interested in genuine hard news will always be a small percentage of the general audience; this has always been the case.

For more, go to [CJR]

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