26. Do advertisers need publishers? If so, is that dependency disappearing? Is “content marketing” the new Craigslist, ridding advertisers of their need for publishers? And is native advertising just an evolutionary step toward another plummet in revenue for the journalism industry? What implications does this have for the influence of money on discourse?

Should journalism worry about content marketing?

By Columbia Journalism Review (Michael Meyer)

October 29, 2014

But one day soon, native advertising may be recalled as a quaint evolutionary step, as brands are increasingly comfortable simply reaching an audience themselves.

Advertisers and journalists have always been partners, and that partnership has always contained an inherent tension. Content marketing has the potential to turn that tension into an existential threat. Journalists like to think of themselves as protectors of the public interest, intermediaries who police both fact and rhetoric. The very premise of the profession is that it’s dangerous to have words pass straight from the mouths of CEOs or politicians to the public’s ear. This intermediary function is at the core of journalism’s identity and, though it wasn’t always thought of this way, the core of its business model. But each successful piece of content marketing is, in effect, a statement that a journalist wasn’t wanted or needed. Each time a consumer clicks on a piece of content marketing, or shares it with a friend, it’s confirmation that they’re very comfortable being out there in the information landscape on their own.

[The Purina PetCentric] site’s content suggests how successful corporate brands can be at crafting an editorial sensibility that readers find just as compelling as the ones they borrow, as it were, from publishers via native advertising.

[Bill] Etling, [the director of public relations for Purina’s marketing department], noted that this is starting to happen at the national level, too. Beardslee, [Etling’s employee and] a new mother, mentioned how she had recently watched a segment on NBC’s Today on tips for getting your baby a good night’s rest. Although the segment was hosted by Today’s regular anchors, one of the featured experts was a Johnson & Johnson executive, because the company had paid for the segment.

Chevron runs a community-news site for Richmond, CA, where it is the town’s largest employer. Coca-Cola now spends more money creating its own content than it does on television advertising.

…Is a light piece of marketing in the form of a news story any more or less of a problem — for the public or for journalism — than a serious piece of marketing in the form of entertainment? I’m not sure.

An important distinction between most journalism and marketing is the mandate to follow a story where it leads, and offer it to readers in the spirit of public interest. But it may also be true that this principle that we journalists hold dear — the idea of not being invested in a story’s outcome — is more important to us than it is to the people we purport to write for.

Journalism, Independent or Not

By David Carr (New York Times)

November 2, 2014

Clearly, historical models of funding original content are under duress, and a variety of efforts have emerged to innovate around that new reality: nonprofit news sites, digital news operations with low-cost approaches and yes, brands like Verizon that are also beginning to finance their own media operations.

At the bottom of the [SugarString article], there was a graphic saying “Presented by Verizon” followed by some teeny type that said “This article was written by an author contracted by Verizon.”

As the DailyDot pointed out last Tuesday, Verizon not only backs the site, but also sets its coverage agenda. And that agenda, according to an email recruiting reporters for the site, did not include reporting on domestic spying and net neutrality, two of the most vital issues in technology. Those subjects were off the table.

As the DailyDot pointed out last Tuesday, Verizon not only backs [SugarString], but also sets its coverage agenda. … According to people who were part of the process, Verizon brought the idea to McGarryBowen, an ad agency, and it soon became clear that what the company wanted was not a brand campaign, but a media property with visibility in social platforms.

A Chevron PR website pretends to be an objective news source

by Los Angeles Times (Michael Hiltzik)

September 22, 2014

[The Richmond Standard] is entirely a creation of Chevron Corp., which operates a huge and controversial refinery in, yes, Richmond…

This is what the news business has come to in communities where economics have wiped out traditional local newspapers. Self-interested corporations have stepped into the vacuum.

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