Tag Archives: media

Is Branded Content Journalism?

25 Feb

Like lots of young J-School graduates, I have one foot in the traditional journalism world and one foot…somewhere else. One former schoolmate works as a “community manager” at an Internet startup. Another friend is a Web editor/SEO specialist at an online newspaper. Yet another sunlights as “communications director” for a government agency.

As I’ve discussed before, I’m the editor of a lightly-branded media and marketing blog called Sparksheet, which is both an independent-minded industry publication and a strategic corporate property. So I’m always navigating the line between editorial and advertorial, zealously guarding my journalistic independence and integrity while making sure not to embarrass the company or its clients.

Which brings me to this recent blog post by Sally Gethin. A self-proclaimed “old fashioned journalist,” Gethin edits a respected inflight entertainment industry newsletter (yes, such a thing exists). Although I can’t say for certain, the post seems to be a thinly-veiled attack on Sparksheet.

(Note: For some reason she seems to have deleted the post. But here’s another Web lesson for Ms. Gethin: online content is forever. You can find a cached version here– just scroll down a few posts to “When news becomes clutter”).

Indeed, most of the post is an inchoate rant. She blames the Internet for killing investigative reporting. She laments that “There is too much online ‘chatter’ going on.” Regarding Twitter, she contends that “just the word itself defames the notion of real debate.” Really?

But the question of whether branded content should be regarded as credible journalism is a legitimate one. So here is my response (originally posted as a comment on her blog):

As a fellow journalism school graduate and someone who works in the branded media space, I couldn’t disagree more.

First, the idea that the Internet and “digital media” are killing investigative journalism is ludicrous. Check out websites like ProPublica, Spot.us and Talking Points Memo, which have picked up the investigative torch dropped by newspapers, magazines and TV stations that are no longer willing or able to invest in proper muckraking.

It’s a shame that so many legacy media outlets are struggling. But “old fashioned journalists” and media executives are far from blameless. Ignoring what happened to the music industry in the face of Napster and iTunes, they failed to grasp the impact digital media would have on their outdated and inefficient business models (low subscription costs, print classifieds, un-targeted ads, etc.).  Instead of seeing the Internet as an opportunity, they saw it as a threat, and leaner, keener outlets rose up to fill the void. Continue reading


Lessons From BlogWorld 2009

7 Nov

I spent a few days last month at the BlogWorld conference and New Media Expo in Las Vegas. I didn’t gamble a cent– I like to say I’m not dumb enough to play a game of chance, not smart enough to play a game of skill– but I learned a lot, tweeted a lot, and met heaps of interesting, engaging people. I even got to see Beatles LOVE courtesy of Cirque de Soleil. The show was magical and it was fun to watch 20-something Eastern European acrobats dance like ’60s-era Yanks to “Back in the U.S.S.R.” But getting back to the learning part, in the spirit of  making sure what happens in Vegas stays online, here are a few old and new media lessons from BlogWorld:

1. Online vs. traditional journalism is not a zero sum game

Despite some stinging comments hurled at CNN anchor Don Lemon during one panel, I was surprised by how much love “legacy media” were getting in BlogWorld. NYU journalism prof Jay Rosen advocated using search data to determine what readers care about. Blogcritics publisher Eric Olsen waxed nostalgic about the tactile experience of print magazines. Rather than eye each other suspiciously, old and new media types shared best practices and ideas for preserving quality journalism. Continue reading

Behind the Masc

21 Mar

OK, I’ve been a bad blogger.  It’s been almost a month since my last post here. But I haven’t been that bad. You see, I’ve been posting away over at Masc Magazine, a new blog that looks at MASCulinity in politics, popular culture and everyday life. So far I’ve blogged about Yiddishisms, Barack Obama, Ken dolls, and now Steve Harvey, which I’ll paste below since it hasn’t gone live yet. I’ll make an effort to post future pieces here as well, but make sure you check out the site itself. The other contributors have a lot of important things to say about “who’s the man?” and what the even means. My latest post after the jump… Continue reading