I really can't remember wanting to be anything other than a journalist when I was growing up. Weird I know. Most kids want to travel to space, work with animals or save the world, but for some reason, I decided pretty early that I wanted to be the one writing about it.
That ambition was pretty much unwavering until around 2008.
Remember 2008? When we were all setting up our Facebook accounts and learning what a 'blog' was?
2008 was also a pinnacle turning point for online media and one thing was for certain, print journalism was in danger. I became saddened very quickly when I started to realise my journalism dream could be over before it had begun. Digital journalism was yet to prove its worth and that palpable uncertainty persuaded me to pull the door to on print journalism and take a broader approach to my career, leaving the door open to other avenues of writing in the case that journalism does, in fact, die out.
Fast forward 11 years and anyone can be a journalist. Internet sharing platforms have proliferated so much that forums and Twitter are the millennial’s primary source of news. Kids as young as 12 are blogging to thousands of readers and ‘Trumpism’ and ‘fake news’ are burgeoning realities within the media industry. The influx of raw journalism paired with fabrications and unreliable sources has created the paradox of journalism, and the industry itself - as I thought- has endured a challenging decade.
Don't feel sorry for me by the way. I couldn't be happier with where those choices have led me, and that I get to witness (and leverage) this evolution in journalism for the better of content marketing...
The era of the brand journalist?
We are now facing a fate where, for journalism to have a future, we have to adapt and leverage its purpose in new ways.
Its next evolution is manifesting within the content marketing industry. To succeed as marketers we must embrace the reality that readerships are fluxing and becoming more defined than ever. Readers now have the choice to read content aligned with their own interests and goals, and, as predicted by Helen Boden back in 2008: “journalism is now fully embracing the experiences of our audiences, sharing their stories, using their knowledge and hosting their opinions; we're acting as a conduit between different parts of our audience; and we're being more open and transparent than we have ever been.”
This is how we should expect to see things shift. As brands are now being instructed to ‘think like publishers’, and marketers and content writers are being told to think like journalists, the editorial approach is clawing back its authority and reputability.
For now, we still have to deal with the multiple paradoxes of journalism: Is print dead or evolving? In tandem with the rise of fake news is the rise of raw, live news, reported (and quite often filmed and photographed) straight from the frontline by bloggers and Tweeters alike. And, while print newspapers may be in decline, a focus towards niche, alternative and hyper-focused print publications is proliferating.
It's a daunting yet exciting time for journalism. And that excitement is reflected in brand strategy, as brands have an opportunity to grab the handle of that U-turn and jump on board by providing their audiences with high-quality, editorial content that has been professionally edited and published, builds thought leadership, editorial authority and brand presence in a multi-faceted media space.
The last ten years has seen a paradox of power for journalists. Overall, the ability of the mainstream news media to set agendas and control information has been drastically diminished. However, individual journalists or acts of journalism can have more impact than ever before. This matters. To the journalists, but also to the public, because knowledge is power and who controls the production and distribution of topical information is more important than ever before.