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Why I hate brand journalism

June 22nd, 2015 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Issues

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Both Joe and I trained as journalists before switching to other fields and journalism remains of utmost importance to us both. In fact, one of our main connections early on was our desire to criticize bad journalism while defending the work of journalists to outsiders.

Watching journalism change over the past decade and becoming content creators in different platforms has led us to a lot of interesting discussions. The changing terms of journalism have made for a very interesting media space. For instance there is the rise of the term ‘citizen journalist,’ which is problematic because these everyday citizens don’t have the training or access that professional journalists have. This can be a positive in some cases – there have been many tweets and videos of news as it happens we would not have if citizen journalists had not been on the scene.

More problematic is the term brand journalism.

Any content produced with a brand in mind, paid for by a brand or spearheaded by a brand cannot and should not be considered journalism. Branded content is marketing, it’s PR. Calling something brand journalism is an attempt to blur the lines between advertising and legitimate news stories.

Legitimate news needs to be independent, without interference and with a critical eye. Journalism is ideally supposed to be without bias, at least as a starting point. Tacking the term brand on removes that starting point.

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