On Unbiased Brands and Objective Journalism
If someone was to ask me how I define journalism, I take a classic approach to it. I think of journalism as something pursuing the truth, working for the betterment of society, informing the public on important matters. But even I know that this idealistic definition of journalism is just that; an idea.
Contently boldly says that the term “brand journalism” cannot exist and I’m not sure if I can argue against that. I agree with Contently by saying that journalism is inherently unbiased but I also can see the argument of how current journalism isn’t exactly as unbiased as we all dream. Sarah Mitchell in a Lush Digital article says it perfectly, that journalists work under guidelines and different agendas “all under the veil of objectivity”. If a journalist is writing for the benefit of a brand then it’s obvious that their aim is to positively influence public opinion. But a newsroom journalist writing about newsworthy topics could also use their platform to sway their readers.
When I hear the term “brand journalist” I relate their work to that of an advertisement. Not that all published pieces of brand journalism is an ad but I can’t reconcile with it having the backing of a company that doesn’t solely deal with news. So maybe the problem isn’t in deciding the difference between brand journalism and traditional journalism, it’s that the term brand journalism does nothing but muddy the waters.
Is there a better name for brand journalism? Most definitely. Will it help clear up the confusion? Hopefully. Do I know what this better name is? I’ll leave that question to the professionals.