Posted by Lillie Schrock
According to a Social Times article by Amanda Cosco titled “Is Branded Journalism still Journalism?,” businesses in Europe and the United States are signing contracts with and, in some cases, employing journalists to write stories for their websites and social media. This new trend is called “branded journalism.” Branded journalism, also called content journalism, is the next big thing in communications, according to Cosco’s article.
Cosco cites social media expert Shel Holtz, who says the goal of branded journalism isn’t necessarily to solicit profits, but to make companies visible. Even if a company has a website, it is virtually invisible without relatable online content.
Cosco says in her article that “many smart business owners have realized the importance of generating relevant, community-focused content to keep their brand top of mind.” Where controversy comes into play is the changing role of journalists. Branded content is not interested in covering the news, but instead is interested in reporting the stories relevant to a brand’s industry. When is a journalist no longer a journalist but a marketer?
Many traditional reporters are worried about the blending of journalism and commerce. Cosco’s article discusses how author Paul Carr worries that “writers will increasingly be forced to compromise journalistic integrity in the name of the Almighty Dollar.” Carr says that because branded content is produced in the name of capital, businesses and brands will obscure certain world-views and spotlight others.
On the other hand, Sparksheet editor Dan Levy believes in taking a journalistic approach to business and marketing. “There’s definitely an opportunity for corporations to foster and finance innovative journalism,” Levy said in an interview with Karyn Campbell. Levy says that this is just an extension of underwriting radio and TV shows and placing ads in newspapers. “So long as corporations are clear about their role in the content, as well as the limits of what they are willing to cover, I don’t see a conflict,” Levy said.
According to a Brafton News article titled “Survey suggests branded journalism can help site visitors in quest to learn,” 26 percent of people visit ecommerce websites to learn about companies and their products before making a purchase. The study also said that web visitors who go to an ecommerce website and leave without making a purchase often attribute this to a lack of product information. Does this prove that branded journalism is necessary?
Where do you stand on the bridge between marketing and journalism? Can they blend? Is this beneficial to those absorbing the content?