The digital economy is driven by content – both push and pull. So it’s not surprising that sponsored supplements, reviews and blog posts are on the rise, and the traditional church-and-state lines between advertising and editorial are ever blurring. What is surprising: only the staunchest of journalistic purists are crying foul from within the crumbling walls of their print media ivory towers. What’s even more surprising: I, having now spent more of my career as a communicator than a journo, count myself among them.
Before shocked gasps begin to reverberate through cyberspace at that declaration, allow me to clarify. It’s not that I don’t support the digital revolution that’s given rise to citizen journalism, the blogosphere and an unprecedented era of consumer connectivity and engagement. It’s just that I miss the bygone era where news meant novelty.
Sponsored content can be relevant and newsworthy, as well as a way for marketers to generate pre-launch buzz and drive engagement. But more often than not, sponsored content is about manufacturing news where there is none. Where’s the novelty? The innovation? The sheer newness?
“It’s new...for us. So go out there and get us some coverage,” has become a familiar client-to-consultant refrain. In a sea of me-too followers, there are sadly few true newsmakers. And when those who report news can be ‘bought,’ when their content can be influenced because it’s sponsored, – well, it makes this editor-turned-flack long for the return of pure news.